It turns out that the Philadelphia 76ers were involved in the trade that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Just, Philadelphia’s participation didn’t look like what people thought it would.
When the Love-Wiggins trade talks were preliminary rumors, it was believed that the Sixers would send veteran power forward Thaddeus Young to Minnesota in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 draft, Anthony Bennett. While the first half of that rumor did turn into reality, it turned out that Bennett is now in Minnesota alongside Wiggins and Young.The Sixers, meanwhile, received a 2015 first-round draft pick (belonging to the Miami Heat, by way of Cleveland) and two players from Minnesota’s roster: Alexey Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute.
It will be interesting to see how much value Philadelphia puts in Shved and Mbah a Moute. Both players will become free agents at the conclusion of next season: will they become reliable members of the Sixers’ rotation, that the team will look to re-sign for the future?
Or do the Sixers view these players as dead-weight salary that was the necessary price for the first-round pick? We’ll only have our answer as time unfolds on the 2014-15 season.
After a promising rookie campaign with Minnesota in 2012-13, Shved was a serious candidate for the NBA’s least-improved player of the year in 2013-14. Not only did his playing time per game fall off a cliff — going from 23.9 MPG to 10.5 MPG — but his already-mediocre shooting percentage took a potentially fatal drop, from 37.2 percent to 32.1 percent.
What’s more, Shved did not make up for his inaccuracies by helping to feed his teammates: his assists per 36 minutes took a similar tumble, from 5.6 to 3.7.
So, was Shved a proverbial “change-of-scenery” candidate, or is his NBA career destined to be a short one?
One thing that is clear about Shved’s game is that he does not possess the type of decision-making abilities that are required to be a reliable offensive creator and scorer. Unfortunately, this is exactly how Minnesota used him most.
Last season, 35.8 percent of Shved’s shooting possessions came when he was a ballhandler in the pick-and-roll, which took up a far greater percentage than any of his other offensive responsibilities. On these types of plays, Shved shot a terrible 22.6 percent, and turned the ball over a significant amount as well. (Statistics via mySynergySports.com.)
This is not the best way to use Shved within the flow of the offense. Shved is not yet up to speed with the pace of the NBA game, and doesn’t (yet) have the vision to create a high-percentage opportunity.
When facing good defensive coverage, Shved will pick up his dribble or leave the ground in an attempt to pass — but he’ll do so before he has fully realized who he is passing the ball to. In the examples below, Shved is off-kilter and/or surrounded by traffic, and his hail-mary passes are all intercepted, igniting fast breaks:
Sometimes, Shved will commit the equivalent of a turnover by taking a no-hope circus lay-up — fading away from the basket and in the face of good defense. Shved’s extremely low shooting percentages aren’t (necessarily) reflections on his accuracy, but reflections of his rushed decision-making when it comes to pulling the trigger, like on these plays:
Plenty of NBA players have had long and successful careers without being offensive playmakers. If Shved is to stick around in the NBA, adjusting his game to this fact is how he would achieve it.
Later this week, I’ll take a look at the more appealing aspects of Shved’s game — those traits that inspired the Sixers to trade for him in the first place.