In every sport, a major challenge to organizations is evaluating youth. We always hear of the “flop” or “bust” players as well as the late round superstars or sleepers that come out of no where. In the past, the Minnesota Timberwolves have had their fair share of criticism regarding the NBA draft and free agency. From the days of simply forfeiting picks, to the recent past of making no big offseason moves, the Wolves have never had a good reputation when it comes to off seasons. But this past season, the Wolves took a gamble on one guy that I feel is going to become a great player for years to come.
Alexey Shved is a 6’6 guard out of Russia that was signed by the Timberwolves to a 3 year, $10 million dollar contract this past offseason. At first, I knew little about Alexey and his game and simply looked past this signing. Almost four months later, I am just now realizing that this could become one of the best signing the Wolves made this off season and maybe in the last few off seasons.
The numbers don’t jump out at you, 6 points per game, 2 assist, 3 rebounds in about 18 minutes per game, but watching him on the court, I can see that there is some something special about this player. At 23 years old, he seems to already have calmness and composure of a veteran. I watched him check in last night and payed close attention to his body motion and how he reacts to certain situations. From what I saw, he seems to already have the mentality of a player who is in his sixth or seventh season rather then his rookie year, which was great to see.
Along with this, he doesn’t seem to be shy to take shots and make dangerous passes. Plenty of times last night I saw him throw careless underhanded and no-look passes, some resulting in turnovers, but most resulting in easy lay-ups and shots for his teammates.
There is work that needs to be done though.
Just like any player, he needs to develop. His shot is a little unorthodox and he might have to restrain on some of his dangerous passes, but nothing about Shved seems like a problem that can’t be fixed. His split numbers are great. According to NBA Reference, he is averaging about 13ppg, 5 reb, and 5ast, per 36 minutes. Along with this, in fourth quarters, he is shooting 43% from the field and 44% from three, which is superb.
Overall, the Timberwolves have made a very underrated signing in my opinion. Shved, when developed, will be a quality starter in this league. At worst, I can see him as a Vladamir Radmanovic type of player, who, in his prime, was actually a decent contributor to NBA teams. At best, I can see him as a similar caliber player to Penny Hardaway. While I’m not saying he will be anything close to what Penny was, he definitely fits that mold of player. So for now, good job Wolves, you seem to be figuring this offseason thing out.