After Rookie Year, Shved Better Prepared For NBA Grind

After Rookie Year, Shved Better Prepared For NBA Grind

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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It took some time for Alexey Shved to recover from his rookie season in Minnesota. The combo guard from Russia had never played an 82-game schedule before, and the combination of the increased schedule, the additional minutes and the changing responsibilities due to the Wolves’ injury situation made for a rapid transition into the league.

Now, three months later, Shved was back at the LifeTime Fitness Training Center working out with the Wolves’ Summer League roster—looking and sounding refreshed.

“After two weeks you start missing basketball, playing 3-4 times a week,” Shved said. “After 2-3 weeks you start thinking something changes. Right now I feel good and I am ready for everything.”

Shved won’t be participating in Summer League with the Wolves—instead, he’ll be taking off for Miami to work with coach Bill Bayno for a stint before heading back to play with the Russian National Team later this summer. After taking a couple weeks off after the season, Shved began getting to work on his offseason regimen. Mostly working on his shooting, Shved said he also is working on getting himself ready for the 82-game grind.

He began strong during his rookie season, playing well enough to gain fan notoriety as well as a spot in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge game over All-Star Weekend. But in late-February Shved’s production began to slow down, and in the final month or two the rookie had trouble impacting games the way he had in first half of the season. His shoot wasn’t falling, his points per game fell from 11.4 in December to 4.8 in April and his assist numbers dipped from 5.8 to 3.0 in that same timeframe.

Part of it was the physical marathon—something rookies can’t quite account for no matter how many years of professional ball they play before heading to the NBA. But the other aspect is the mental side, and player development coach David Adelman said that was just as big a factor because of the tasks the team asked of Shved throughout the season.

When Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and Malcolm Lee all went down with injuries early on, Shved went from a back court rotation rookie to a starter in the span of a couple weeks. He went through stretches of playing 35 to 40-plus minutes per night, often changing roles on the fly. Some nights he was playing off the ball, other nights he ran the point.

One night he was guarding Dwyane Wade, another night he was guarding Chris Paul, Adelman said.

“That was a wild season for him,” Adelman said. “We had him playing 40 minutes, handling the ball 38 of those 40 minutes, guarding someone else’s 2-guard. It’s good to see him back and then seeing him with the people we added, he’s going to fit right in.”

That’s an exciting part of the process, too. Shved said while there are a lot of pieces still in place, the Wolves will in part be a new team come 2013-14. With health, who knows where the Wolves might finish?

“We still played good last year but we had a lot of injuries,” Shved said. “It didn’t give us a chance to play in the playoffs. We’ll see this year, because everyone wants to play in the playoffs. Everyone wants to win a championship. We’ll see if we start.”

One change on the roster could be Andrei Kirilenko, who let his contract expire at the end of June and is currently a free agent. If he doesn’t return, it will be the first time since 2010-11 Shved won’t be on a team with his teammate, mentor and friend.

It likely helped Shved tremendously having Kirilenko on the team last year as he adapted to the NBA and to living in America, so even if Kirilenko doesn’t return Shved said he’s in better position for Year 2 because of the camaraderie he had with Kirilenko in Year 1.

“He really helped me in my first year,” Shved said. “This is a different country. I played in Russia, stayed in Moscow every year. I am not just changing the city, I’m changing the country. He always tells me, him and his wife, they lived here for 11 years and they know everything. For sure I listen to them. Sometimes I can talk to them because I have questions, too.”

Shved will likely get time working on playing the point and at shooting guard during his offseason workouts. On Wednesday, he showcased why he’s playing that combo role. Rookie Shabazz Muhammad said he was impressed and surprised by Shved’s passing ability.

“I love him. If you look out there, he kind of reminds you of a little bit of Rubio,” Muhammad said. “I didn’t’ know he could pass the ball like that. He’s a good guy. I’ve been talking to him a lot and spending some time with him, and like I said, he can pass the ball. We’re going to be a really good team, a really unselfish team.”

For Shved, he’ll get some time working with the Wolves’ staff before playing in his native Russia before camp. Knowing what awaits him when he returns to the NBA, he’s better equipped to prepare himself for the 2013-14 season.

“After the first season, what can I say?” Shved said. “There’s a lot of games, and if you want to be ready for all 82 games you have to work harder to play in all 82 games, not just 50 or 60.”

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