Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  By PHIL ERVIN  |  Last updated 11/25/13
MINNEAPOLIS -- Create the credibility.That was Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko's advice,verbatim, for longtime friend and Timberwolves guard Alexey Shved when the twoRussian transplants got together last Thursday, a day before their respectiveteams squared off at the Target Center.This NBA season's early stages haven't gone as planned foreither Russian national-team standout. After opting out of his contract withMinnesota and signing with Brooklyn, Kirilenko has missed the past eight gameswith back spasms, while the injury-plagued Nets have sputtered to a 3-10 start.Shved's quandary, alternatively, is of the mental variety."He lost a little bit of confidence," Kirilenkosaid.It's bound to happen to a second-year pro playing limitedminutes, shooting horridly and hearing his name tossed about in the trade-rumorwinds. Shved hasn't showed Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman enough reliabilityto earn sustained playing time, and when he does see the floor, he clangs 3s,dribbles recklessly and just doesnt appear comfortable."A frenzy," Adelman calls it."Basically, he hasn't played well," the coachsaid. "There's nothing you can do about it. I think the one thing you cando is keep talking to the guys who don't play and say 'You have to beready.'"When called upon, Shved hasn't been.Appearing in all but one of Minnesota's 15 games, the lanky24-year-old is shooting 24.4 percent from the field (10-for-41) and 15 percentfrom 3-point range (3-for-20) in 9.4 minutes per contest. He hasn't been ableto develop much cohesion with the rest of the second unit, and he hasn'tadjusted well to playing more shooting guard while J.J. Barea backs up RickyRubio at the point. Shved's body language hasn't been much better; an in-gamesmile has become a rarity.Shved is due to earn 3.15 million this season and is undercontract through next year. Some reports say he and forward Derrick Williams --who's experienced similar struggles -- are on the trading block, as theTimberwolves seek better fits on the wing.Shved knows, it, too. When discussing his early-season woeswith reporters, he explained without provocation that he doesn't want to leavethe team that signed him as a free agent in July 2012.But he wants to see the floor, too."I have preference to stay here," Shved said inhis thick Russian accent, "but if I want to play more, I've got to workmore."Especially without the ball in his hands. Adelman has takento rotating starters Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer and reserve small forwardRobbie Hummel at the wing spots before using Shved -- a point guard for Russiaand CSKA Moscow except during spot or garbage-time duty.It's frustrating, he admits."It's tougher to play without the ball," Shvedsaid. "You can do nothing. You can play with the ball, you can play biggerrole, make shots; but without the ball, it's hard."His rookie season featured the opposite problem; due to anarray of injuries, Shved was forced to play 23.9 minutes per game -- too manyfor him to gradually adjust to the NBA, according to Timberwolves coaches."It's more easier if you play all the time," Shvedsaid. "It's like if you played 25, 30 minutes, it'd be more easier foreverybody. It's just hard when you come in with not a lot of time, but you needto do your best for five, 10 minutes. How many minutes coach gives you doesn'tmatter, you just need to play 100 percent."That's what Kirilenko -- a 32-year-old, 12th-year NBAveteran -- reminds his former protg during their weekly conversations.The two grew rather close during their season together in theTwin Cities. Kirilenko encouraged Shved as he labored to a 37.2 percentfield-goal clip as a rookie, then watched him this summer as he took charge ofRussia's Eurobasket squad.The team finished 1-4 and was bounced in the first stage,but Shved shot 47 percent and averaged 16.4 points and 4.8 assists per game.That output came while playing point guard, though.Regardless of position, the sophomore still has a slump tosurpass."I cant help him go through that," Kirilenkosaid. "Im obviously not playing (here). And hes in little bit of a toughposition right now."All he needs to do is keep working. Like, in thisstretch when youre playing five minutes, 10 minutes, just go hard. Beavailable for the team, create the credibility." Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter
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