Alexey Shved: Not a point guard?

Wishing you had more in-depth analysis on the Timberwolves latest acquisition? Searching for YouTube videos that will show you Shved’s strengths, weaknesses, and anything in between? Not to worry, Grantland’s Sebastian Pruiti has you covered.

From Pruiti’s Grantland article:

In isolation, [Shved] always seems to make his decision a little too late. Which means, by the time he picks out a teammate to pass it to or a lane to drive into, it’s usually not open anymore. So even when he makes the right decision to kick out the ball, the defense has usually recovered by the time the pass is made, and that leads to turnovers.

If Shved was coming over to the NBA as a point guard, I’d be worried about his ability to have a positive impact. However, pair him, and his shooting ability, with an elite, pass-first point guard like Ricky Rubio, and you have a player who can do a lot of good things for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Don’t be surprised to see him knocking down a lot of corner 3s next season.

Pruiti’s analysis is really interesting (all backed by Synergy Sports numbers, as is customary with his posts), in part because most Timberwolves fans were thinking that Shved’s signing was partially point guard insurance until Rubio comes back. I, for one, have heard the “Russian Rubio” terminology thrown around quite frequently, which led me to believe that we were about to get an oversized point guard with excellent court vision/instincts and mediocre shooting skills.

Pruiti’s article claims exactly the opposite. He presents videos that show Shved as an excellent catch and shoot wing, but someone who struggles as a ball handler, specifically as a decision maker in the pick and roll. Shved’s numbers in the PnR are disturbing, to be sure. But they are far from fatal, if Pruiti is correct (and he usually is) that Shved can be used as a catch and shoot player, especially from the corners.

I highly recommend that you go read the article and watch the videos. Great stuff, all around.

Timberwolves Sign Greg Stiemsma; Twitter Has Jokes

It has been all but official for several weeks now, but yesterday the Timberwolves made their signing of ex-Celtics’ center Greg Stiemsma official, signing the 6’11, 26 year old journeyman to a two year contract, only one year of which is guaranteed. Stiemsma averaged 13.9 minutes per game last season for the Celtics, and averaged 7.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per 36 minutes. Filling in for various injured players, Stiemsma started 3 games for Boston last year.

Stiemsma is, of course, far from a franchise changing player. He is, rather, a decent, big defender off the bench who blocks a LOT of shots (seriously, 4.0 blocks per 36 minutes?) and can replace Darko Milicic with better offensive production (13.6 PER to 9.0 last season) and twice the passion. It should be mentioned, of course, that the reason Stiemsma’s offensive production was better than Darko’s last year was at least partially because he was playing with an All-Star point guard with incredible court vision in Rajon Rondo. It should also be mentioned that he is about to be playing with a potential All-Star point guard with comparable court vision in Ricky Rubio. So while Stiemsma won’t be a scoring threat off the bench, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his production continue to stay at the same level.

Stiemsma’s signing helps the Wolves defensively as well. The Wolves best shot blocker was, unfortunately, Milicic, as Nikola Pekovic, for all of his positive attributes (wide, strong body, good instincts), has average length and vertical leap. Stiemsma doesn’t have extreme athleticism or length either, but he has excellent timing defensively, and his addition will help shore up the Wolves defense close to the rim.He struggled at times with rotations in the complex Celtics’ defensive system, but part of that can be attributed to a lack of familiarity, given that he arrived just last year and Boston barely practiced during the season in an attempt to save old legs from undue stress.

But while all of that is important, none of that is as fun as the fact that Stiemsma is just, well, fun. He works hard, he always gives a crap, and he’s eminently coachable. Sure, his signing contributes to the “EVERY TIMBERWOLF IS WHITE!” meme, but I think I speak for most T-Wolves people on Twitter when I say “Meh.” That meme is played out and white or not, the Wolves have vastly improved themselves in this offseason. So kudos, Mr. Kahn. A tip of the Abercrombie and Fitch baseball cap to you.

Plus, Stiemsma’s signing comes with the added bonus of having the best quote of the summer. From several sources:

“It feels good to be wanted,” Stiemsma said. ”It feels good to have all your hard work pay off.”

I repeat: “It feels good to be wanted.” Greg Stiemsma has all of your D’AWWWWs.

#ShvedSwag and AK-47 dominate Great Britain

Alexey, you beautiful, strange-looking man.

Timberwolves fans have a lot of Olympic basketball cheering options. There’s the United States featuring Kevin Love, who threw off concerns about his playing time with a strong performance against France yesterday. There’s Spain, who Rubio is loudly cheering for on Twitter (and let’s face it, he has a little bit of influence over us). And now, there’s Russia, for whom the two most recently acquired Timberwolves are playing.

From The Star Tribune, my new favorite quote of the Olympics:

“Look at me,” [Andrei] Kirilenko said, exulting after the game. “I am running like a young deer.”

Putting aside the utter hilarity of that quote, it’s hard to argue with Andrei. In yesterday’s 95-75 domination of the Olympic home country, Great Britain, Kirilenko shot a staggering 82.3% from the field and scored 35 points. His team Alexey Shved, the other Timberwolf on the roster, also played extremely well at point guard, dishing out 13 assists to go with 16 points.

It should be noted that Great Britain is not a very good basketball team, despite Luol Deng’s presence (and yes, even Deng’s Olympic coaches overplay him). But Alexey Shved can PASS, and I’m not just talking about the absurd between the legs dish. Shved demonstrated excellent court vision, as well as a flair for the dramatic. His basketball IQ seems to be very high, which makes him an exciting pairing with Rubio next year after Ricky is cleared to play. Until then, performances like this indicate that we may see Shved starting in Rubio’s place until the Spanish point guard is fully recovered.

Marc Stein of ESPN tweeted this gem of a quote last night:

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.”

Oh, we do, David Blatt. We certainly do.

Glen Taylor Has Buyer For Wolves/Lynx

During the offseason, the most interesting stories are the ones involving player transactions, or Russian acquisitions lighting up the Olympics together (more on that later today). But just because a story isn’t quite as interesting doesn’t mean it isn’t important. This is an important one, so listen up.

The Star Tribune is reporting that Glen Taylor, owner of the Timberwolves, has found the successor he has been searching for.

From the article:

Glen Taylorwho has owned the Timberwolves for 18 seasons and the Lynx for 13, has found the successor he has been looking for. In the near future, Taylor will close a deal to sell 25 percent of the franchises, and eventually the new owner will own the majority.

Unfortunately, the buyer is from outside the Twin Cities, but Taylor insists he will continue to own a share of the two teams and will make sure that they don’t move out of the state.

Taylor has said throughout this process that it is important to him that the new ownership keeps the Timberwolves in Minneapolis, which is why he was first searching for a buyer who lived in the Twin Cities. Apparently, no wealthy Minnesotan was willing to bite, so he had to go outside the state.

This might not mean much in the grand scheme of things. It’s possible that the new owner is a person who has ties to the Twin Cities. This would be ideal.

The problem is that Clay Bennett also said he was going to keep the Sonics in Seattle. Lipservice doesn’t mean much in this game. So while we certainly hope that Glen Taylor knows for a fact that this mystery person isn’t going to move the Wolves, and while we know that even if this mystery person DOES intend to move the Wolves, it won’t be for several years until Glen Taylor is completely out of the equation, if we discover that this owner lives in Kansas City, or some other city that has been pining for an NBA team, the fact that the new owner doesn’t live in the Twin Cities is a real cause for concern.