Alexey Shved just made one helluva first impression. First impression if you’re like me and don’t watch European basketball. He and fellow Wolves newcomer Andrei Kirilenko were DOMINANT in the Russians’ drumming of Great Britain on Sunday afternoon. Although GB is not considered a good Olympic team, they do have NBA players, including a good one in Luol Deng. Lest we all spend too much time analyzing a single Olympic game, I’ll do this in BULLETS:
- Offensively, Shved is a triple-threat player; something the Wolves haven’t had at the wing since… Ricky Davis? (Don’t laugh. Buckets’ issues had more to do with conditioning and lifestyle than skill problems.) Alexey has a solid handle, court vision to pass, and a smooth shooting stroke. All of those things will help make him the Wolves’ starting shooting guard, assuming that Brandon Roy’s knees are what we think they are.
- Shved appears to be comfortable shooting off the dribble. This will be beneficial to the Wolves as they adjust to Michael Beasley’s departure. He clears himself with solid dribble moves and the ball pops off his hand with great rotation. He’s learned what Thomas Shepard taught Kyle Watson: “Spread your fingers. Snap your wrist.” Being a dribble shooter might mean lower percentages on perimeter shots–only Steve Nash seems to maintain very-high percentages off the dribble, behind the three-line, but he’ll be a difficult matchup that teams have to account for.
- He shares a trait with Ricky Rubio in that he drives into the lane with reckless abandon but is thinking pass before shoot. He hit AK-47 as a trailer/cutter more than once for nice assists. I don’t think Shved will have the same issues that Ricky sometimes does with being too tentative though. He can score. (Of course, if we’re comparing the players, he almost-definitely does not have quite the level of anticipation that Ricky has–Rubio might have the single best anticipation instincts on both ends of the floor in the NBA.)
- Defensively, Shved made steals in the passing lanes. Some of this–maybe even all of it–was careless passing from the Brits. But nevertheless, he made steals. When matched up on Luol Deng in the halfcourt, he had trouble staying in front of him. His lateral quickness might not be very good. This is where he’ll need better strength training and experience. In 1995, Shved might not be able to hang on an NBA floor. In 2012, with different team defense rules, they can try to scheme around such weaknesses. I think he’ll be the starting 2.
- Although I’m focusing on Shved, who is the UNKNOWN COMMODITY, I should also point out that Kirilenko was outstanding in this game; clearly the Russians’ best player. He looked like a superstar on both ends of the floor. And the entire Russian team is a treat to watch. I bet Rick Adelman agrees with me. They constantly look for backdoor cutters, sometimes with Shved being the passer who finds them. I’d be damn surprised if Adelman hasn’t already made it known that he’ll be running his old offense with this new team.
I’ll wrap this up with some tweets during the Russia-Great Britain game:
Dr.LawyerIndianChief (@dr_lic) July 29, 2012
Russia coach David Blatt on Kirilenko & Shved vs. Team GB: "If I'm the Minnesota Timberwolves … I've got a big, fat smile on my face."—
Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 29, 2012
Good stuff. I look forward to watching more of Team Russia.