Alexey Shved enters this season as a rare, experienced second-year NBA player. As a rookie, the Russian native participated in the NBA’s All-Star Weekend alongside teammate Ricky Rubio and fellow young talents Kenneth Faried and Damian Lillard as members of TeamChuck in the Rising Stars competition. Shved’s Instagram profile looks no different the average college student’s, minus the pictures taken with Rubio, but even I have one of those.
He came into the league with something few rookies possess their first year entering the league: professional experience. Without mentioning his two bronze medals earned in international competition, he joined CSKA Moscow during the ‘06-’07 season, though he only played in one game. Six years later, during the 2011-2012 season, only one teammate averaged more points per game (11.6) and only one player in the league had a higher assists per 40 minute average. The only teammate with more ppg? Andrei Kirilenko at 12.3. Both joined the Wolves prior to the start of the following season.
He moves deliberately, ideally creating space for either an open jumper or a clear look to a rolling screener on pick-n-roll sets. Tall, lanky and deceptively quick handling the ball, Shved’s game has been compared to that of Penny Hardaway’s. Hardaway made living off breaking defenders’ ankles with a wicked crossover.
Shved spent most of last season playing at the wing and didn’t look comfortable finding a rhythm playing without the ball. Last season, Rubio, Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea played the majority of minutes at point-guard, but Shved still managed to see 23mpg. This season, he’s behind a sharp-shooting Kevin Martin as the number-two SG. Martin is 6’7’’ – just an inch taller – but both weigh around 185lbs. I can’t sit here and predict a situation where Martin takes Shved under his wing and teach him the intricacies of the game, but if the young Pup watches the older Pup, he may pick up a few tricks.
I’ve expressed my concern over the Twitter machine about the roster’s depth at point guard more than a few times. Taking a closer look at Shved has me worried less about offensive production when Rubio is on the bench, but he doesn’t solve the problem completely. He’s natural point-guard who’s used to creating offense with the ball in hand. With last year’s experience under his belt, a veteran presence he may observe play at his position, along with opportunity to play where he’s most comfortable, this year may prove to not only be a breakout season for Shved, but a valuable learning experience, too.