Before the season started I was cautiously optimistic about Alexey Shved. His performance in the Olympics seemed to indicate he could at least play a strong role off the bench. It seemed unlikely he would play major minutes at SG or PG due to the number of quality players at those positions: Roy, Buddinger, Barea, Rubio, Ridnour.
Obviously the Timberwolves have been beset with injuries, which frankly sucks. One small positive, though, has been the chance to see more of Dante Cunningham and Alexey Shved. Both have played well above my expectations.
I am not a statistician, and I do not play one on TV. I do enjoy looking at numbers though, which in my case means simple box score numbers. Obviously yesterday's detailed discussion of small sample sizes should cause us to be wary. But let's look at what Alexey has been doing so far. For context, let's compare to Wesley Johnson's rookie stats (who played similar minutes):
A few things jump out to me:
- Shved has really been struggling to shoot accurately (worse than Johnson!)
- Shved can hit his free throws
- Shved really fills up a box score for a rookie. Solid rebounding and assists with some shot blocking.
Regarding Shved's FG%, you can see that the three pointers are what is killing his average. If you remove the 3 pointers attempted and made for both players, they have the following FG% on two pointers only:
This jives with what I've been seeing in games, which is that Alexey is pretty good finishing around the hoop. He can help the team more by either making a respectable number of threes or stopping shooting them until he can hit a decent percentage in practice.
There is also a marked difference in free throw attempts:
|Player||FTA per game|
Comparing against Johnson is certainly grading against a curve considering how much he struggled. Let's compare him against DeMar DeRozan, a promising 4th year shooting guard on the Toronto Raptors who just received a big new contract. We'll adjust Alexey's stats to per 36.9 MIN since that is how much DeMar is playing:
If Alexey's FG% were more respectable, you could make a case for either player.
To sum things up, Alexey has been an intriguing player so far to me. To play minutes with Rubio, one or both of them are going to need the ability to hit 3 point shots. If Alexey can improve his FG%, could he be the starter at SG we've been looking for?