Updated: December 19th, 2013 6:41pm
Alexey Shved key to recent upswing in production from Wolves' bench

Alexey Shved key to recent upswing in production from Wolves' bench

by Nate Sandell
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The sample size is small - three games.

But in the last week, the production the Minnesota Timberwolves have received from their bench has been on the upswing.

To put it lightly, getting a consistent output from their second unit has been a struggle for the Wolves in the first quarter of the season. Prior to their trip to Memphis on Sunday, the Wolves were owners of the NBA's worst shooting percentage off the bench (37 percent) and the second-fewest points scored (21.6).

In a three-game stretch, however, Minnesota is starting to see signs of a potential turnaround. Headlined by a 45-point romp at Boston, required as a result of a dismal night for the starters, the Wolves' reserves are averaging 33 points, 47 percent shooting from the floor and 50 percent from long range (12-of-24), to go 17.3 rebounds and 11.6 assists.

Key to this brief reversal has been the reemergence of second-year guard Alexey Shved.

Adelman has stuck with Shved, even when as he has gone through long stretches of disjointed play in the first two months of the season. At least for the moment, the Wolves are seeing the benefit from that faith.

Shved has scored 20 of his season total 65 points in the last three games. Those points have come off a 43.8 percent shooting clip (7-of-16), quite the difference from his 22.6 percent mark (12-of-53) in his first 20 games. Showing an obvious elevation in on-court energy and patience, the potential Shved reflected in glimpses a year ago is beginning to shine through again.

"He's continued to stay with it," Adelman said after practice Thursday. "I just think he's been much more active the last two or three games. I told him that today. He just needs to be aggressive. He has talents that a lot of our guys don't have - his size, his quickness, his passing ability. But he's got to be aggressive on both ends of the court."

In his first season with the Wolves, Shved's responsibilities centered largely around handling and distributing the ball. That role has had to shift a bit under the makeup of the Wolves' refreshed lineup this season. Now Shved must work more off the ball, which has caused plenty of growing pains.

Until recently, Shved's impact this season had been barely felt, other than his 13 turnovers.

From his demeanor both on and off the court, Shved admits that he is enjoying himself again, the stress from trying to do too much in his limited minutes slowly being reduced.

His teammates have taken notice.

"I think he finally got a little fire lit underneath him, and Coach gave him a chance," forward Kevin Love said. "He's a little up and down, but I think you can see as of late that Coach pushed more life back into him. We need that out of him."

Budinger's first day back

Chase Budinger was full-go at practice Thursday for the first time since undergoing his second knee surgery in a year on Sept. 30.

The Wolves ran through a few drills and a bit of four-on-four work. Budinger said afterward he felt comfortable again and was not favoring one knee over the other.

Still hesitant to set a return date, Budinger is focused on getting back into basketball shape in the next couple of weeks. Right now, he is more worried about getting the rest of his body used to the NBA grind again than his left knee.

"We'll see tomorrow how my knee feels, how the rest of my body feels," Budinger said. "But the biggest thing I felt today was the bottom of my feet. Halfway through out there, my feet were starting to burn. That's just something that you've got to get used to again."

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell