The best scorer in Europe in the strongest club in Russia. Does the Swede make CSKA an indestructible team?
Defender Alexei Shved signed a 1 + 1 contract with CSKA. The transition has been reported for a long time, even before the Tokyo Olympics. The deal was officially announced only now, when Shved became a free agent after the expiration of his contract with Khimki.
The Swede has played for Khimki since 2015. I would have continued to do this further, if not for the sad situation known to all basketball fans. The Moscow Region club will miss the next VTB United League season due to lack of financial guarantees.
During his time at Khimki, Shved has established himself as one of the best basketball players in Europe.
“At the post-American stage of his career, Alexey is the leader of the Euroleague in terms of the average number of points scored (20.3), he twice (2018, 2021) received the prize named after Alfonso Ford as the best sniper of the tournament. Alexei finished the past season as the Euroleague leader in scoring (19.8), assists (7.7), number of three-point hits (3.1) and playing time (32.5), as well as second in usefulness rating (19.7 ) and seventh in interceptions (1,3). In the VTB United League, his main indicators are even higher – 23.3 points and 8.0 assists, first and second places in the tournament, respectively, ”- an eloquent short description of the Swede’s achievements from the official CSKA website.
The Swede played intermittently for CSKA from 2005 to 2012. He is a 4-time Russian champion and winner of the Euroleague as part of the army team (2008). In 2012, he went overseas, being already a full-fledged rotation player of both CSKA and the Russian national team, a bronze medalist of the Olympic Games (the victory over Argentina in the game for the third place in the Games in London became possible thanks to Alexei’s cold-blooded hit). In the NBA, the Swede played in the Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks, played a total of 182 games (7.4 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 18.0 minutes). Then there was the aforementioned period in Khimki.
And now we are returning to CSKA. To some extent, it is logical that the best Russian player moved to the strongest club in the country. However, there is a lot of skepticism about this transfer. Not everyone is sure that CSKA needs the Swede and will help the team.
The main quibbles about the Swede are as follows – he is too much of an individualist, does not think about team play, won nothing during his time at Khimki. Yes, in Khimki, the Swede really took a huge load offensively, made a lot of shots. It would be strange to observe a different picture. Alexey is the best scorer in European basketball. Khimki have performed very well in the last 6 years, but they did not reach the status of a grandee like CSKA or Real, both in terms of financial capabilities and the quality of their squad. The Swede is the uncontested first option of the team. Naturally, he took on many responsibilities in the attack. There were also hasty bad shots, wrong decisions, losses. This is an inevitable fate for the absolute leader of the team. You can look at the NBA. James Harden during the Houston Rockets, Russell Westbrook after Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder, Luka Doncic in the current Dallas. They do literally everything offensively. It’s just the best option for the team.
Is the Swede an egoist? Being the best assistant in the Euroleague last season breaks that claim. He did it in the team that became the last in the regular season, which is doubly difficult. Alexey often “decides” himself, but he will never ignore his partner in an open position for a throw.
The Swede won nothing at Khimki? I would like to ask a counter question. And who won something from Russian clubs (and not only Russian ones) during this period? In the VTB United League, CSKA’s hegemony is uninterrupted. Khimki regularly reached the final of the domestic championship and received the right to play in the Euroleague. This can be attributed to success. Since 2015, the Euroleague has been won by Real (twice), CSKA (twice), Fenerbahce and Anadolu Efes – all shareholder clubs with permanent licenses. Yes, once the Moscow Region club played in the Eurocup and did not win it, losing to Valencia. Local failure, which was corrected by getting into the final of the United League.
The brightest pages in Khimki’s history are associated with Shved, namely, reaching the Euroleague 2018 playoffs and the status of the second force after CSKA in Russian basketball in the second half of the last decade. Without the Swede, Khimki would definitely not have been better and would not have shown such a high-quality result. And the Russian national team would not have become the fourth at Eurobasket 2017.
Alexei is often compared to Mike James , who still hangs on CSKA’s payroll. The scandalous American under the leadership of head coach Dimitris Itoudis will not play in the army club, the issue of his current contract will have to be resolved in the near future. In terms of play, there are indeed some similarities between Swede and James. Both are leaders in character, dominant scorers. Although as a playmaker, the Swede is stronger. Most important, however, is the difference between American and Russian off-court.
Alexey has no cockroaches in his head. The Swede values himself highly, but it is impossible to imagine a situation in which he would simply leave the court during the match and do what James did last season. Alexei was never suspended from matches for some strange antics, this happened to an American three times and ended with a complete expulsion from the team. Mike is a talented basketball player, but a man on his own wavelength. His critical thinking is, if not completely absent, then at least poorly developed. Schwed clearly understands where he is and what he wants. Alexey strove to continue his career in Russia. Preferably in Moscow, where he has family, friends and a restaurant business.
Shved comes to CSKA with a clear understanding of the need to rebuild and adapt to new conditions. He will stand out in attack, but hardly to the same extent as in Khimki. This is natural, given the selection of performers in the army club. That being said, do not forget about excellent playmaking. CSKA partners will benefit from the Swede’s passing skills.
CSKA President Andrei Vatutin and head coach Dimitris Itoudis spoke in detail about the transfer of the Swede. This is not some spontaneous rash move. Preliminary negotiations were conducted with the player, all parties understand what is required of them and are aimed at productive cooperation. Simple fact: Europe’s top scorer in the strongest club in Russia. Does the Swede make CSKA an indestructible team? It is not excluded. The next Euroleague season promises to be very interesting, also thanks to the transfer of Alexei Shved to CSKA.