Minnesota Timberwolves: Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved Shine for Russia
Originally written for Bleacher Report
The Minnesota Timberwolves are keeping a watchful eye on the performances of Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved as they play together for Russia in the 2012 Olympic Games. If Russia’s first game is any indication of how the new regime will perform in the NBA, the Wolves should be smiling ear-to-ear.
The Russian team beat Great Britain 95-75 in their opening game. Kirilenko scored 35 while shooting 14-for-17 from the field. Shved put up 16 points and 13 assists.
Although the competition wasn’t great, the Wolves should be extremely excited about the performance. As Kirilienko said, he’s “running like a young deer”. I don’t know if that’s going to earn him the nickname “Bambi” but I’m sure his teammates will have some playful needling ready for him.
Kirilenko is going to play a pivotal role for this young Wolves team. As a player who can defend either the small or power forward position, he’ll take a lot of pressure off of Kevin Love on the defensive end.
Shved won’t get nearly as much playing time as Kirilenko but if last year taught the Wolves anything, it’s that they need to have a good backup point guard in place. The great chemistry that the Russian duo already has will pay great dividends down the line in the NBA.
Here’s a comment from Kirilenko about Shved and their chemistry:
“I said prepare right now for Minnesota, that’s how you’re going to find me…I think he’s doing a good job. Last year we played together. We’ve got connection. He knows when I’m going to cut. I know when he’s going to start driving so I give him space.”
The 2012-13 Minnesota Timberwolves have a ton of international flair with Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Kirilenko and Shved. The key will be getting everyone on the same page and as soon as the Olympics are over and Rubio is healed, the quest to make the playoffs will begin.
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I wear many hats. I will become a father for the first time in July 2013. My work career started as an umpire, evolved to a blackjack dealer and has settled as a sportswriter. You could say I'm used to getting yelled at. I love me some Minnesota Timberwolves but currently call Phoenix home. I'm an eight handicap and a terrible leaper.