On trade deadline day, the New York Knicks made an under the radar deal, flipping point guard Pablo Prigioni to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russian shooting guard Alexey Shved.
The former Rocket and Minnesota Timberwolves player was support to be a spare part, a roster filler, a placeholder for this season as the Knicks gear up for the offseason.
But Shved has exceeded all expectations, and is forcing Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson to consider him in the teams future plans.
Shved has played 12 games with the Knicks, and has averaged 13.4 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game, and 1.5 3-point field goals made in 24.3 minutes a game. He’s also shooting a very solid 36.7 percent from downtown.
The Russian international was key in the Knicks stunning upset of the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. Shved dropped 21 points on 42% shooting, to go along with 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and just one turnover.
His best moment, however, was on defense: a deflection that forced a Spurs turnover towards the tail end of the game. He was fouled immediately after, and hit two free throws to ice the contest. It was a signature performance, one that will stand out to Knicks fans in a season that has sorely lacked such showings.
Perhaps more importantly, Shved has actually worked well in the Knicks triangle offense as a primary ball handler and a floor spacer. That in itself should be a sign to both Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher that Shved is a very solid asset on a contending team.
While right now, Shved is the closest thing to an actual NBA-caliber starter the Knicks have, his play is paving out a place for him as either a third or fourth guard, or even a sixth man next season. It is well documented that the Knicks will almost certainly have a top three pick in this summer’s draft, as well as a surplus of cap space to sign free agents. While that may attract three or four big names to Madison Square Garden, a basketball team consists of 12 players, and a solid rotation consists of 9-10.
Shved could fill a key role for the Knicks down the road, which is why his good play is a bright light in such a dark season.
Shved joins a list of other players whose strong play (relatively) has earned them some roster consideration.
Langston Galloway, who was called up from the Knicks D-League squad, scored 22 points against the Spurs. He also recorded 4 assists and 4 rebounds during a team high 48 minutes.
Galloway has averaged just over 11 points in 30 games for the club, and is posting a respectable 40/35/76 shooting percentage. His scoring prowess and penchant for hitting clutch shots has made a backup back court of Galloway and Shved a distinct possibility next season.
Also playing his way towards consideration is Lou Amundson. The journeyman center has played for 11 different teams over his eight year career, and is just finally starting to find a niche in New York. He was the overtime hero Tuesday, grabbing loose balls and making big defensive plays.
Amundson had a whopping 17 rebounds against the defending NBA champions, 8 of them offensive. While he isn’t as talented as Tim Duncan or crafty as Boris Diaw, Amundson was more relentless than both combined, arriving to loose balls a step early each time. Amundson’s effort, despite playing for the worst team in the NBA, is admirable, and it should garner him consideration as well.
While Alexey Shved, Langston Galloway, and Lou Amundson won’t be NBA starters for much longer, their play recently should be a sign to Phil Jackson that they deserve roster spots next season.