Healthy Timberwolves roster eases expectations on Alexey Shved

BY foxsports • September 20, 2013

This is the 10th in a 17-part series profiling each player on the Timberwolves' roster leading up to training camp.

Sandwiched between the lofty expectations of Ricky Rubio and the perceived reliability of J.J. Barea is the wild card that is Alexey Shved.

The two other Timberwolves point guards' roles heading into training camp are clearly defined. Rubio is the general, and Barea is his second in command.

Shved, though, is still seeking a niche in his second year of American professional hoops.

The lanky Russian, who recently wrapped up a seesaw Eurobasket performance, had plenty of opportunities to showcase his raw talent last season. But a slew of injuries also forced him into more action than he was apparently comfortable with.

It's hoped that 2013-14 can feel much more like a rookie season for Shved.

2012-13 stats: 8.6 PPG, 23.9 MPG, 37.2 FG PCT, 3.7 APG

2013 salary: $3.15 million

Last year: Few professional athletes openly admit when they're broken down or fatigued.

But few undrafted free agents are thrust into duties as demanding and surprising as Shved's were a year ago.

With Rubio and several other key players nursing injuries, Shved never got a chance to adjust from Russian pro hoops to the NBA game. More naturally a point guard, he played both backcourt spots and logged far more minutes than he came in expecting after coming over from CSKA Moscow.

It admittedly wore on the 6-foot-6, 182-pound Belgorod, Russia native. By the time the season ended, he admitted, he was more than ready to pack his bags and return to Moscow.

It was a crash-and-be-bruised course on a faster, more physical style of play than he'd grown accustomed to overseas. Even so, Shved was able to show off his above-average passing skills and take in lessons on the fly.

And despite his many aches and pains, Shved can count himself lucky in at least one respect: he was one of only six Timberwolves players to dress for more than 70 games in 2012-13.

This year: There are even fewer upper-echelon basketball players that would openly welcome decreased playing time.

Shved may indeed fall into that category, but the less rigorous workload he's expected to incur this year should pay dividends in the long run. There are few better international point guards to observe and emulate than Rubio and Barea, and both come back fully healthy.

The pressure will be on them to direct coach Rick Adelman's offense, while Shved's job will be simply to germinate.

If he does rapidly enough, then he can start contending for more playing time.

New president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said he sees Shved as more of a one, though he's part of a group of several guards that could spell Kevin Martin at the shooting guard spot. Shved's jump shooting needs some work, but he's quick enough to move without the ball and find open spots on the floor.

Russia didn't make it past the first group stage of Eurobasket this month, but Shved did his best to provide a solution. He ranked 10th in scoring through the first set of round-robin games in Slovenia with 16.4 points per game and eighth in assists (4.8).

But he also turned the ball over 3.4 times per game, the tournament's fourth-worst clip.

It all leaves plenty for Shved to learn in his second year in the NBA. If Minnesota can stay healthy, he'll be able to do so at a much friendlier pace.

From the front office: "I think he's rejuvenated a little bit. That first season -- I don't care where you played, or how long you were a professional overseas -- it's a long season, and we asked a lot of him." -- assistant coach David Adelman

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