Alexey Shved says he doesn’t matter where he plays, he just wants to play.
Shved is the Russian player who came to the Wolves before the 2012-13 season and spent much of that season showing he might have a future as a shooting guard. Getting an opportunity in large part because of a long injury list, Shved played in 77 games, started 16 and scored 8.6 points and 3.7 assists.
Last season was a different story. The 6-6 Shved saw his numbers and productivity drop.
And now? President of basketball operations and head coach Flip Saunders wants Shved to work at playing some point guard.
And that’s what Shved has been doing since the team’s summer league roster began prepping for league play, which begins this weekend in Las Vegas.
“It doesn’t matter – point guard, shooting guard,” Shved said. “I just want to play.’’
Shved has some abilities that would seem to make the move plausible. Saunders likes Shved’s height, which allows him to look over defenses much like a big quarterback can see things over the middle. He likes that Shved has the ability stay in front of an opponent on defense.
Saunders made his intentions known on draft night, when he said being able to add point guard duties was a key for Shved to extend his NBA career.
This week Saunders has softened his stance, saying he’d like Shved to be able to contribute to work at both positions, with the key being making sure Shved gets his confidence back.
“He’s learning,” Saunders said after Wednesday’s scrimmage. “I think the biggest thing is he has to become more vocal. That’s an adjustment when you’re a European player. He’s picking things up, trying to learn both (point guard and shooting guard). He’s been pretty solid. ‘’
Shved said he’s looking forward to playing in Vegas. About to enter his third season, his English has improved and he said he’s ready to be vocal player Saunders wants.
Here are some other nuggets from Thursday’s workout:
--On Wednesday, after scoring 21 points in the open-to-the-public scrimmage, center Kyrylo Fesenko said one of the reasons he accepted an offer to play summer ball with the Wolves was his friendship with Shved. The two know each other from playing in Europe. Thursday Shved made a politically-tinged joke. “He’s Ukrainian, I’m Russian,” he said, referencing the current political climate between those two countries. “We stay together. As players, we are together.”
--Saunders said Shabazz Muhammad has been the hardest worker this week, said the second-year player knows he has to improve on defense and is willing to do what it takes to get there. He also said this: “Today was probably as good a practice as he’s had since he’s been a Timberwolves player,” Saunders said.
--Saunders said second-round draft pick Glen Robinson III won’t be signed to a contract before the team plays in Vegas. The Wolves want to maintain some roster flexibility as they navigate free agency.
--Robinson, meanwhile, admitted the players have been as interested in the anticipation surrounding LeBron James’ impending free agency decision. “We have been fans a little bit,” he said. “We’re watching ESPN, wondering, just like everybody else.”
--Saunders said Chase Budinger, who will travel to Vegas to practice with the team, won’t play in any summer league games. But he said Budinger, trying to come back from two injury-marred seasons, is coming along well. “He’s gotten a lot more confidence in his legs,” Saunders said. “He’s able to shoot the ball better, get the ball above the rim, dunking, doing a lot of things he didn’t do a lot of [last year].”