Breaking Down Russia’s Alexey Shved and His NBA Potential

Alexey ShvedAlexey Shved has shown during these Olympics that he is an interesting prospect, one who should make the Timberwolves even more exciting to watch. Throughout the men’s basketball competition, we’ve seen the good Shved — a 16-point, 13-assist game against Great Britain — and the bad — getting benched in the fourth quarter of Russia’s game against Australia for talking during a timeout. Shved, who is known a little too well for his off-the-court antics, is starting to make a name for himself in the Olympics with his play, especially with his shooting. This has led many Timberwolves fans to ask: What can he do for us next year?

Strength: Catch-and-Shoot Situations

Shved has been playing the point for Russia, bringing the ball up and initiating the offense, but that is something he won’t be doing in the NBA, due to the fact that there is a guy named Ricky Rubio on the Wolves. This is OK though, because at 6-foot-6 Shved has the size and the skill to slide over to the shooting guard position. Last year, during his 41 games with CSKA Moscow, Shved shot very well playing off the basketball, knocking down 44.4 percent of his spot-up jump shots and 56.3 percent of his jump shots coming off screens. In fact, Shved made 54.5 percent of his shots that were considered “unguarded” by Synergy Sports. Those are the types of shots Ricky Rubio should be able to create for him next year for Minnesota.

There are a lot of things that Shved does right when he is shooting. His feet are shoulder width apart, he always gets himself squared to the basket (something that is vital when coming off screens looking to catch and shoot), the release point is always the same, and he jumps up and straight down just about every single time. This consistency is very important for a young shooter, because it is the skill that takes the longest to develop (ask Ray Allen about how important it is to do the same thing every time). Another nice quality about Shved’s shooting is that he has a quick release. No matter where he catches the basketball, whether it be at his hips or off to the side, he quickly gets the ball to his shooting pocket and he lets it fly.

Weakness: Turnovers

Right now, Shved’s biggest problem is his inability to take care of the ball, especially in the half court. According to Synergy Sports, Shved turned over the basketball on 15.6 percent of his total possessions; in the half court, that number rises to 16.3 percent. Where Shved is at his worst is in the pick-and-roll. He turns over the basketball 19.6 percent of the time. The reason? It comes down to poor decision making.

When Shved comes off the screen and he isn’t looking for his own offense, he struggles picking out the right teammate to pass it to. Being the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations is all about making decisions. Are you going to be looking for your own shot? Are you looking for a teammate to pass to? Which teammate? Are you going to hit the roll man or a teammate spotting up outside of the pick-and-roll? This is where Shved really struggles.

This isn’t just a pick-and-roll problem. Shved has issues with his decision making in isolation as well, turning it over 15.9 percent of the time in those situations.

In isolation, he 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.

Filed Under: Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, Olympic Games, Olympics, Sebastian Pruiti, Total Breakdown