I’m going to preface this with a slight explanation: Calling Alexey Shved out is appropriate, if for no other reason than he has sucked for almost an entire calendar year and there is no worthy replacement that currently exists on the Wolves’ roster. Flip Saunders should be thankful both CJ McCollum and Trey Burke are out hurt right now instead of showing something in Portland and Utah that would look nicer in Shved’s place. On with our show…
There’s a bit of a theme through the first six games the Wolves have played. A problem you could see developing opening night against Orlando occurred again two games later in New York–the Wolves built a sizable (read: HUGE) lead that disappeared after disastrous second-string stints. Though the starters found a way to salvage both of those collapses, they failed against Golden State. When Rick Adelman had to lean hard on his starters to pull out the win in New York, they were totally gassed in Cleveland the following night and when the bench was nowhere to be found early, they lost momentum that was too much to overcome when they eventually arrived too late to come back and they lost.
However, there are injuries to key players. People usually complain about “small sample size” when making comparisons or predictions. How is it every year we have playoff contenders, title contenders, future hall of famers and rookies of the year crowned by reporters after the first month of the season–remember Brandon Jennings and his 55-point November game? Pretending injuries don’t play a part in the Wolves’ troubles is disingenuous–Chase Budinger’s movement and spacing would be incredibly helpful and Ronny Turiaf’s broken elbow robs Minnesota’s roster of its only legitimate shot blocker.
Granted, the existing pieces are underperforming, to put it nicely. Alexey Shved’s rookie campaign was like a firecracker, sizzling early and fizzling out immediately, leaving Wolves fans and management to hope he would return ready for the long, 82-game grind as a contributor. While JJ Barea and Derrick Williams have had a couple moments inspiring a little patience and Dante Cunningham has earned the benefit of the doubt with his yeoman performance all of last season, Shved’s bed wetting is not going unnoticed…
Ideally, Chase Budingerwould be on the court with this unit in order to balance out some of the scoring but since he’s gone for quite some time, the team has to rely on Alexey Shved to accomplish this. Shved’s play so far this season has been less than stellar. He’s taken 15 shots in the five games and only four of them have been at the rim. He’s been resigned to taking jumpers instead of working for drives to the basket. It’s not a shock that he’s made only 20 percent of his attempts so far this season.
Long after nearly everyone else had gone home Wednesday night, Kevin Love sat at his locker and talked about leadership. He spoke about bucking up Dieng, telling him that Pekovic also had a tough time accumulating fouls in his rookie season. When it came to Shved, Love remarked, only half-jokingly, “Yeah, somebody needs to light a fire under his ass.”
Bring plenty of charcoal for the rest of the bench.