The NBA caught their first glimpse of what sort of player rookie Alexey Shved of Russia is over the weekend when the Olympic bronze-medal winner poured in the points late for Minnesota in the Timberwolves’ 82-75 exhibition game victory over Chicago.
Shved has had many a big performance for his country over the years, including with his Russia’s youth teams, and he’s also had his share of points eruptions for his club sides like CSKA Moscow.
Against the Bulls, the 23-year-old had 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
He hit a couple of shots from long range but also showed his ability to get to the basket.
With the Bulls on top 60-58, Shved beat his man off the dribble, floated into the lane and then switched the ball in flight from his left hand to his right before scoring with the lay-up.
He ended up hitting four of his seven shots in the contest.
Shved has been a picture of consistency the past several years.
After showing a lot of flair with Russia in their bronze-medal run at EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, he returned to CSKA Moscow and excelled as they reached the Euroleague Final.
This summer was his finest hour.
He averaged 10.5 points and five assists as Russia went undefeated at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, and at the London Games, Shved increased those numbers to 11.4 and 5.9.
He finished with a game-high 25 points after nailing six of 11 shots from behind the arc.
Shved also handed out seven assists in that win.
Andrei Kirilenko, the other Russia international who has joined Minnesota, has a decade of experience in the league.
After playing alongside Shved the last two summers, and with CSKA in the 2011-12 campaign, he has no doubt about the youngster’s ability to make it in the NBA.
“It’s evident that he has good prospects in the NBA,” Kirilenko said.
“And it is obvious that the coach is counting on him.”
At next year’s EuroBasket in Slovenia, and at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain if Russia qualify, there’s a pretty good chance that Shved will take his game to new heights.