If you didn’t think the Minnesota Timberwolves could acquire any more white or international players, then you thought wrong.
Late Tuesday night it was announced that the Timberwolves agreed to terms with Russian combo guard Alexey Shved.
The 23-year-old Shved averaged 10.6 points, 3.0 assists and drained 49 percent of his three-point attempts in 21 Euroleague games last season.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
With the move, the Timberwolves will have introduced a European player to their roster each of the last three seasons, beginning with Nikola Pekovic in 2010-2011.
Then came Ricky Rubio.
Rubio took the NBA by storm last season. In his rookie campaign, Rubio averaged 10.6 points and 8.2 assists in 41 games before tearing his ACL.
How quickly Rubio adapted to the NBA came as a shock to most observers in the league. People did expect Rubio to play at that level—just not so quickly.
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune went so far as to compare Shved—albeit in a limited and mostly non-basketball way—to Rubio:
“(He has) (l)ots of flowing hair, instinctive playmaking ability that leads at least one prominent NBA international scout to believe he's much more natural point guard than shooting guard and, like Rubio, he has been something of a basketball sensation in his home country since he was barely a teenager. Unlike Rubio so far, he also has matured into a deft shooter.”
With Zgoda and others throwing around Rubio's name in the same sentence as Shved, it's important to note Shved wasn't nearly as hyped as Rubio.
Rubio was expected to be a top-five pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Shved wasn't even drafted in 2012.
Prior to this year's NBA draft, DraftExpress.com provided a thorough scouting report on Shved, detailing the type of player he is now and what he can become.
It points out that Shved has serious holes in his defensive game, citing that his “skinny frame and below-average wingspan raise significant concerns about his ability to defend either backcourt position in the NBA."
If Shved is forced to guard the opposition’s shooting guard or small forward, then he’s likely to get out-muscled on a nightly basis. Shved is 6'6" but has a very slender frame—a frame many expected would have been filled out more by this point in his career.
What holes he has in his defensive game he makes up for on the offensive end.
Shved is touted as a strong open-court player, which will fit in perfectly with what the Timberwolves want to do with Rubio at the helm. Shved can finish on alley-oops, create his own shot and consistently knock down jumpers.
His limited strength makes it difficult for him to get to the rim. He struggled against Europe's stronger bigs, which means he will certainly struggle (early on) to finish around the rim.
Don’t let the negatives scare you.
Many NBA executives were unable to see Shved play because of his location in Moscow. Many of the same negatives that scouts and executives attached to Rubio are also being bandied about when discussing Shved.
Rubio was supposed to be unable to defend well in the NBA and unable to get to the rim. Rubio proved those people wrong in his rookie season.
Shved could do likewise, but it shouldn't be expected.
With the potential roster the Wolves will have come opening day, don't expect Shved to be more than a ninth or 10th player, especially if Minnesota acquires Nicolas Batum from Portland.
Shved could prove a great pickup in two or three years, just don't expect Ricky Rubio 2.0 to take the NBA by storm in 2012-13.
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