Alexey Shved has made these Olympics a coming out party. Simply said, his short career has peaked during this pool play. According to Sporting News, he averaged 10.5 points and 5 assists in the Olympic qualifying tournament, improving upon his Eurobasket tournament numbers of 8.5 PPG and 3.1 APG. In these four Olympic games he has bolstered all these totals to 15.7 PPG and 8.3 APG. Should Wolves Nation take this play as a sign of things to come or rather just a small sample size worth overlooking?
Before answering this question, it is worth asking if Shved is best suited to be a point guard and a true court leader? As of now, the Wolves already have three point guards in Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea. The current roster would suggest Shved is destined to be their backup shooting guard. Although he seems to excel in his current role as PG, Shved may actually be more successful working off the ball. During the Olympics, Shved has consistently shot the ball with confidence and solid form- most closely resembling that of Mike Miller or JR Smith. Yet, his ability to create his own shot may go unnoticed playing alongside Ridnour or Barea.
Rubio has near unrivaled court vision, perfectly suited to Shved’s ability to space to floor and cut to the basket. Unfortunately, Ridnour and Barea are far from the ‘true point guard’ Rubio has quickly become. Both are more inclined to create their own shot, even when contested. Trade rumors suggesting Ridnour or Barea could be moved should signal Shved’s importance to this team and which PG front management believes can best adjust to his needs.
Shved’s skills may be greatly valued but his faults should raise some eyebrows as well. Even with impressive numbers during these Olympics, Shved has struggled. During Russia’s win against Spain, Shved played limited minutes. Coach, David Blatt commented on this controversial decision by stating, “Do you know the story of Icarus? He put wax on his wings and began to fly and everyone believed he was superhuman. Suddenly the sun shone brightly on those wings and they melted and he fell. Now, Alexey, to his credit, has had an amazing Olympic Games and really has come out in a big way, as he did last summer for the Russian national team in our medal-winning performance…. I think he was just too good too fast for too long, and you know, his day came that he wasn’t that good and I recognized it.” Mythical comparisons, while theatrical in this sense are just as telling for a player’s boundaries. Blatt’s comments point to the gift and risk Shved presents as a player. Seemingly smooth, quick and controlled Shved must learn when to dictate the pace of game for the benefit of his team and when to prove himself as player.
I believe Shved will be best judged with Rubio out of the lineup. Ultimately, he will either show he is effective scorer off the bench or the play maker we have witness during these Olympics. Rubio may be his perfect court mate, but Shved has much to prove and needs to improve this team. His talent will be told in Rubio’s absence- an opportunity I expect him to embrace with style and enthusiasm.