Wessel: Time to start dreaming about Shved, Rubio together with Wolves
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- Thank goodness for Alexey Shved.
While Andrei Kirlilenko, Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger watched Friday's 95-85 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at home injured, it was the rookie from Russia leading the Wolves to victory.
All attention was on the other three aforementioned newcomers heading into this season, with Shved looking like something of a project that would struggle to get on the court.
That has changed. And it will continue to change.
Shved scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter Friday on his way to 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, five assists, three rebounds and two steals in 32 minutes.
But he saved his best for last -- nailing a 26-foot 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to give the Wolves a 93-81 lead and ice the victory.
Coach Rick Adelman isn't a fan of mixing up his starting lineup, but there really is no reason Shved shouldn't be starting on this injury-depleted team. At the very least, he should be getting at least 35 minutes a night and be on the court in the fourth quarter when the game is being decided.
As Adelman always says, it matters more who finishes the game than starts it.
The backcourt combo of Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea has proven ineffective. Opposing guards run circles around them and they fail to properly distribute the ball in an offense that is built around ball movement.
Shved has the type of court vision to make passes nobody else in the arena knew were there. And, unlike the other two, the rookie can also get things done on the defensive end.
"I thought he was really good defensively," Adelman said after Friday's game. "He challenged shots. He's long. And I don't think people in the league have realized that."
People who doubted Shved's ability to play in the NBA failed to remember the lesson that Ricky Rubio taught the league a year ago. Shved -- like Rubio before -- played professional ball in Europe before entering the league, and it has done more than enough to get him ready to play in the Association.
He helped lead his homeland to a bronze medal at the Olympics. A Friday night game against the Bucks doesn't faze him.
"He has been in big games and you can see that," Adelman said.
Rubio's return is imminent, and the possibilities of him paired with Shved are enough to make any hoop junkie's mouth water.
But that is all still to come. Adelman isn't the type of coach to change things too suddenly. Remember, it took 11 games last season before Adelman finally caved and made the obvious decision to start Rubio.
Shved may have been the least-hyped newcomer to the roster overhaul that had fans talking playoffs for the first time in years, but he has established himself now. It shouldn't be long before he finds himself a starter on this team.
And shortly thereafter, fans will have their dream backcourt of him and Rubio.