The Wolves’ worthless draft research and thus repeatedly fruitless drafts has placed them firmly in the business of overpaying to acquire or retain talent. This offseason’s 4-year deal for 30-year-old Kevin Martin, never mind the 5-year for 27-year-old Nikola Pekovic, has only hammered this point home.
Although the NBA’s shooting guard position is full of one-way players and isolation specialists who would generally fill the role of ball stopper and ruin coach Rick Adelman’s share-and-share-alike system, Martin for all his apparent decline and defenselessness will fill one sure thing the Wolves need more than anything: perimeter shooting.
I like Martin for the Wolves for his possession of actual, professional, NBA-level skill. The guy can shoot it — and that’s not going to disappear. He’s never been a defender; there is no cliff for his defense to fall off of. He is not a diminutive combo-guard of debatable or negatable officially listed height. The guy is a legit 6′ 7″, has had a knack for getting to the basket and getting fouled as well as shooting it from 3. Even if his 20th all-time scoring efficiency were to suddenly become limited to standing beyond the arc and waiting for a spot-up opportunity, no one calling themselves a realist can argue the Wolves would be worse off than anything they’ve fielded since Fred Hoiberg.
The optimist in me says the Wolves’ threats of Martin on the perimeter, Pek in the paint, Chase Budinger or Corey Brewer in the seams gives Ricky Rubio ample offensive targets and Kevin Love immense opportunities to work from everywhere on the floor.
From the Canis Hoopus player preview series on Martin:
Expected Role: 26-32 minutes as the starting shooting guard. Martin will be relied on as a significant part of the offense whenever he’s available. His ability to make threes in volume will hopefully help to rectify one of last year’s biggest problem areas, and his knowledge of and success in Rick Adelman’s offense should help free up others as well. When he’s out there, he’s going to be a big part of what should be one of the league’s top offenses.
Best Case Scenario: Martin stays healthy and has something of a renaissance year, where his usage increases a bit and centers on a rebound in his free throw attempts, which climb back above 5/36. He seamlessly integrates with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic to form one of the most devestating offensive trios in the NBA.
Worst Case Scenario: He misses big chunks of the season injured, and his porous defense becomes more and more of a problem as his offense continues it’s slow decline. As a result, we are back close to where we were last year, without anyone you really feel good about manning the off-guard position. Once again, there is too much Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea for anyone’s liking, and that $7M a year is looking like a bad investment by February.
Most Likely Outcome: Martin remains a dangerous and effective offensive player when he can play, but that won’t be every night. He winds up missing a significant number of games, but helps when he’s out there.