Friday, November 6, 2009

Pecherov taking advantage of playing time

When Kevin Love fractured his left hand in the preseason, it gave Oleksiy Pecherov the chance for something that he hasn't had since he's been in the NBA: consistent playing time. Love will probably return in another month or so -- the injury was to his non-shooting hand -- but Pecherov is fighting hard to show the Timberwolves that he can play.

Through five games, Pecherov's minutes have increased each game, from five minutes on the court in the season opener against the Nets to a whopping 34 minutes against the Celtics on Wednesday. Oddly enough, against the Celtics, one of the best defensive teams in basketball, Pecherov scored a career-high 24 points on 9-14 shooting. He knocked down a three-pointer, made all five of his free throws, snatched eight rebounds, and even had an assist, which is noteworthy because coming into this season, Pecherov had nine career assists -- and 27 turnovers.

Not surprisingly, he's happy to finally have the opportunity to show what he can do:

"Before this (season), I didn't have a chance to play a lot. . . . When you get in the game and play a lot, your confidence comes back. You're not rushing your shots. The game just comes to you. It's easy to play like this. When you play just five minutes or three minutes, you rush. You need time to take in the game."

While in Washington, Pecherov was never able to receive consistent playing time under head coach Eddie Jordan or interim coach Ed Tapscott. Even during a disappointing 2008-2009 season when the Wizards played horribly (finishing 19-63) and battled injury issues throughout the season, Pecherov still averaged under nine minutes per game. Even if the coaches didn't feel Pecherov deserved more minutes, it was odd to see Pecherov routinely sitting on the bench during such a down year. Then again, maybe Ernie Grunfeld had seen all he wanted to and knew Pecherov wouldn't be returning. Again, who knows for sure.

I'm not going to not make too big of a deal out of this. The season is young, and Pecherov is fortunate enough to be in a situation where he can play -- at least for now. But if he keeps shooting the ball well -- he's currently hitting 58.5 percent of his shots -- he should see many more minutes than he did with the Wizards.

A change of scenary can be beneficial, and so far that seems to be the case for Pecherov.

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