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The Prospect Post: Without a Shved of Doubt

Fred Katz

Fred Katz

Fred Katz averaged almost one point per game in 5th grade, but he maintains that his per 36 minutes numbers were astonishing. Find more of his work at ProBasketballDraft.com or on ESPN's TrueHoop Network. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.

He plays like he's in a videogame even though he doesn't even have an avatar in the newly released NBA 2K13.

He's a slasher, a shooter, a distributor.

His name is Alexey Shved and with the injuries that the Timberwolves are suffering through, he may be turning into the most significant offensive player on the roster.

Minnesota is essentially missing all of its stars. From Love to Roy, Rubio to Pek, it seems like everyone on that team is dropping like flies.

From a pure luck factor - if you believe in the basketball gods and predeterminism - that may not bode well for Shved's injury future. But from a practicality standpoint, all of Shved's numbers are starting to go north and fantasy owners have to start to take note.

It all began once the Russian Olympian cut that mop off the top of his head. He stopped looking like the second Love on his team - Courtney - and began taking over the offense. With another injured guard, JJ Barea, out with a foot injury, Shved has had the opportunity to run the 'Wolves' offense and that's just how the 23-year-old likes it.

With no Barea, Friday night's game against the Warriors turned into the best game of the rookie's young career. He went for season highs across the board, dropping 22 points and dishing out seven assists in 33 minutes off the bench. This production doesn't necessarily have to do with his minutes - though of course that plays a role - but more with his usage.

Luke Ridnour remains the starting point guard for Minnesota and Shved isn't nearly as good when playing off the ball.

Of his eight field goals made on Friday, only one came off a catch and shoot in a half court set. Meanwhile, he created six of those field goals off the dribble. He got two more points in transition.

Shved is the type of player who needs the ball in his hands to maximize his success. He loves getting into the lane and kicking it back out to jump shooters on the perimeter, similar to the strategy that every 13-to-17-year-old employs in just about every basketball video game he's ever played.

He loves getting those high ball screens and when he plays with the second unit, he becomes that much more productive, if only because Dante Cunningham is one of the best screen setters in the league.

With no Rubio and no Barea, he's gaining control of the offense and he's Shvedding defenses.

From a pure fantasy perspective, this is good news for his owners, at least for now. Over his past three games, Shved is averaging 17.0 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per night. And those minutes may start to go up if he continues to be this productive.

The best sign for fantasy owners might be the fourth quarter of Friday night's game, when Shved came in and actually played almost the entire quarter with Ridnour. Yes, Ridnour took the ball up and technically remained as the point guard, with Shved playing off the ball, but the Russian was the one who ran the offense.

Towards the end of the game, Ridnour made a conscious effort to ensure that Shved would get the rock as soon as the point guard crossed half court. It was his offense to run. And he took over.

That seven-point fourth quarter shouldn't have come as much of a surprise to the diehard 'Wolves fans. Shved tends to turn it on late.

He scored 22 points in a game in which he didn't hit his first bucket until 10:30 remained in the second quarter. He leads his team with 58 fourth-quarter points and is averaging 23.7 points per 36 minutes and 7.8 assists per 36 minutes in fourth quarters this season.

He's the doctor of the offense, a Shvederinarian if you will.

(You're not Shved up with these puns yet, right?)

The 6-foot-6 guard knows how to use his size, part of why it makes sense for him to go straight to the hoop so often, especially when he gets matched up against smaller point guards. And we know how much the 'Wolves love their tall points guards. After all, they did once rid themselves of Sam Cassell and a first-round pick so that they could acquire the deliciously average, 6-foot-7 Marko Jaric.

The problem with Shved's game lies with Ricky Rubio. The two guards actually have a similar style of play and while Rubio is as unselfish a player as they come in the NBA, he's the type that needs - and deserves - to have the ball in his hands to be successful. Both of those players are at their best when they create for themselves and for others off the dribble. Unfortunately, though, there can't be two basketballs on the court.

That means with a Rubio comeback, it's possible we see Shved return to a primary backup point guard role, which might indicate fewer Shved minutes.

The good news for Shved fantasy owners is that Rubio isn't expected to return anytime soon and that means this Minnesota offense could start to become Shved's. At least for the next month or so, a guard playing about 30 minutes a night - and averaging 18.0 points per 36 minutes and 7.3 assists per 36 minutes - should provide incredible value, especially considering where he was drafted in most leagues. That is, if he was even drafted at all.

In any case, a guard who runs his offense is going to have the opportunity to make plays and get his shots.

Now we just need to get him into NBA 2K13.




Fred Katz is a NBA writer for RotoWire. Follow him on Twitter at @FredKatz.