This is the third post in a series here on Howlin’ T-Wolf ranking the Timberwolves roster player-by-player. Ideally, Derek, Tom or Jonah will post a new player everyday for 13 days. As always, you can follow Jonah (@howlintwolf) Derek (@DerekJamesNBA) and Tom (@Tom_NBA) on Twitter as well. Be sure to join in the fun/discussion using #TwolfRank.
First, let’s get this out of the way: It’s spelled A-L-E-X-E-Y. Not Alexy, or Aleksy. Even his last name is S-H-V-E-D, not Sheved. As an experienced copy writer already, name misspellings bother me — like finger nails digging into a chalk board.
Misspelling his name is a bigger mistake than you might know now, however. Because if Shved seamlessly transitions from the Euro game to the NBA just like Ricky Rubio was able to accomplish, than Shved has the talent to become a big name you’ll never want to misspell again.
As it stands right now, Shved is not a top-10 player on the Timberwolves for a couple of obvious reasons. One of them being his background. Sprouting as a talented young gunner in the Russian league, making that hop across the Pacific to the NBA won’t be easy. For one, he barely knows a lick of English. During his phone conference to announce the signing a week before the Olympics started, his agent had to translate back-and-forth for him. Secondly, the way Shved plays can be both scintillating and horribly frustrating. He plays with a lot of the same flash and swagger that Rubio does but isn’t always able to control it. He forces passes which lead to turnovers and he can toss up some pretty bad, contested jumpers instead of creating something else.
All negatives aside, Shved possesses a special type of game that could very well flourish in the NBA. He’s quick and limber with above-average ball-handling skills. He’ll easily be able to play both guard spots and has special skills to exceed at both — he is very diplomatic with his decision making off pick ‘n’ rolls, which makes him a solid backup point guard option and he has a great pull-up jumper and outside shot, which makes him a great option at the 2-guard.
If there was any coach that could hone in on Shved’s strengths and teach and discipline his weaknesses it would be Rick Adelman. Shved seems coachable enough — this is where the Rubio comparisons don’t match up at all — but he does seem to struggle with his own hype, or at least gets caught up in it too much. His
cockiness, no, confidence translates well to the NBA but you have to harness it. A lot of these players that grew up playing in the grind parks around the country like Rucker won’t take crap from a scrawny Russian.
The first step for Shved is to realize he’s not the go-to guy — yet. Instead, if he approaches camp with an open mind and a team-first mentality — I believe AK47 can help with this — then he’ll be on the right foot. Be coachable and be confident instead of stubborn and cocky. There’s a huge difference.
Think of Stephon Marbury. Shved and Marbury share a lot of the same qualities on and off the court. They love to shoot and make plays and do a swell job of mixing it up. Off the court, they love the fame and attention that the NBA game can bring a player. But if you let your head get in the way of your development, you can find your way out of the league and playing in China much sooner than you should be.
Shved can’t let that happen. More importantly, Adelman can’t let that happen. Both Kahn and Adelman understand how special Shved can be. Adelman most likely knows how best to harness that talent and develop a fully functioning product. But it all comes down to Shved’s first two years in the league and his mental approach. At only 23, he has time to learn and study. Then, by the middle of his second year, I hope, he’ll be able to burst into the Wolves’ young core as the starting shooting guard. Only time will tell.
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