Minnesota Timberwolves Want Alexey Shved to Be Happier

by October 07, 2013

Ricky Rubio memorably implored his teammate Alexey Shved to “change this face” during a game last season. The Minnesota Timberwolves are all now working on making sure young Alexey smiles more, which supposedly helps his game. Per the Star Tribune: “Now (Ronny) Turiaf unknowingly has joined the chorus, encouraging the second-year Russian guard to play with more joy and less concern for his errors while coach Rick Adelman just wants Shved to become more ‘engaged’ when he’s playing off the ball. ‘If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself,’ Turiaf said. ‘If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.’ Much has changed for Shved since a rookie season in which his ball-handling and playmaking tantalized at times. But as plain as day, he also slammed into that rookie wall in the final months during a year when he played more minutes than anyone imagined. Now he is a year wiser and stronger — ‘I make muscles,’ he says — even if the wiry 6-6 combo guard still weighs the same starting a season when he no longer has fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko by his side. ‘He’s my great man, my good friend and he really helps me,’ said Shved, who says he still talks to Kirilenko every other day after his pal signed with Brooklyn last summer. ‘But he has his life and I have my life.’ Shved and Kirilenko played together on the Russian national team and for a CSKA Moscow team that visits Target Center for the Wolves’ preseason opener on Monday night. A 10-year NBA veteran who’s nearly a decade older, Kirilenko guided Shved through every step of a rookie season in a foreign country and league. ‘Maybe not having A.K. here does affect him because he used to talk to Lexey all the time, and in Russian,’ Adelman said. ‘We don’t have anybody who can do that right now.’ Adelman is not as concerned about a smile as he is Shved’s energy — or lack thereof — when he’s not controlling the ball. Shved now must adjust the way he has played most of his life in a backcourt pairing with J.J. Barea, who, too, likes to dribble and create with the ball. ‘His whole game has been when he has had his hands on the ball,’ Adelman said. ‘He’s really good then. When he’s off the ball, he has a tendency to shortcut things. ‘He just has to stay with it and become a cutter as well as a ballhandler.'”