Athletic Shved Gives Wolves Options In Back Court

Photo courtesy of CSKA Moscow
Russian guard Alexey Shved began dreaming of playing in the NBA when he first started playing basketball at age 6 or 7. Back then, his father, Victor, would bring home VHS tapes of NBA games and let him watch some of the top players in the world perform on the game’s biggest stage.

Now, the 23-year-old Shved will get his own chance to play at that level.

The Timberwolves officially announced signing Shved on Tuesday, ensuring the athletic guard will leave his native Russia next season to join the Wolves’ roster. Shved has spent the past six years playing professionally, most recently for CSKA Moscow, but after years of grooming his game he now feels prepared to make the jump to the NBA.

“I am very pleased that I will be part of this team and I will do my best to help this team reach as high a goals as can be,” Shved said during an introductory conference call. “Everybody in Minnesota are good people that I meet and I’m very pleased to be on this team.”

President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said he first saw Shved play in Lithuania during the European Championships in September 2010, just after the Wolves agreed to terms with coach Rick Adelman. What struck Kahn about Shved’s play was his ability to take the ball wherever he wanted, drove to the basket and found ways to help his teammates achieve.

He also showed poise on the court as his coach allowed him to take the biggest shots at the end of pressure-filled Euroleague games.

“Since that time, not only have we been monitoring Alexey but also working diligently to figure out a way to have him on our team next season,” Kahn said. “It all culminates today, and we’re just very pleased to have him with us.”

Shved is a 6-foot-6 combo guard who helped his squad win the 2012 Russian National Championship last season, posting 14.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game while shooting 60.0 percent from 3-point range during the postseason games. He also averaged 10.6 points and shot 49.3 percent from 3-point range during 21 Euro League appearances a year ago.

When he’s on the floor, Shved is a playmaker. His abilities include making athletic drives to the basket, starting or finishing alley-oops and connecting from long range.

He has the court awareness and athleticism to play either point guard or shooting guard, and Kahn said while he expects him to play off the ball primarily he also has the chance to add an additional ball handler to the floor when necessary.

With his height and reach, he adds additional length to a roster that rotated Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea in the back court to achieve that goal of having multiple ball handlers on the floor at the same time.

“Not only guys that can create for themselves but also create for others,” Kahn said. “He’s more than capable of doing that. I think obviously with Ricky here he will be playing the 2 here, but I believe he could be used in a number of ways.”

Shved’s agent, Obrad Fimic, said NBA teams have shown interest in Shved dating back a few years but he and his father decided to continue playing in Europe until he was more polished and ready to take the next step. Now he finds himself on a Timberwolves squad drastically changing its lineup with hopes of taking the next step of its own into the NBA playoffs.

“What I like about the team, the players are very young and the team with a good perspective in the next two years,” Shved said. “They are playing nice, quick basketball offensive(ly), and that’s the type fo game that I like also. I think it will be a good fit for me, and I like it.”

Shved's skinny frame raises some questions about his ability to take the physicality of bigger and stronger players at the NBA level, particularly on defense. Kahn said with the way the team is structured he doesn’t expect Shved to step in and immediately need to fully be accustom to the NBA game. He will be able to transition into his role as he learns the pace of the league.

“If it happens, terrific,” Kahn said. “But I think we have enough depth in our back court where we’ll be able to make the transition at his speed instead of demanding a lot of things from him right away.”

At long last, Shved has the chance to take the next step in his career.

“Basically since I started playing, I had a dream to play [in the NBA],” Shved said. “Following NBA TV games, and that was my wish to play with some of the best players.”


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