Kevin Martin: Timberwolves 2015-16 Player Preview


This is the seventh piece in a series of articles that will look at each individual player on the Timberwolves’ roster heading into the 2015-16 season. See the links at the bottom of this page for previous players previewed.

Kevin Martin joined the Timberwolves to reunite with head coach Rick Adelman for the third time in each man’s career and with the third different team.

It was supposed to be a playoff-ready team centered around Kevin Love, and it nearly was. The Wolves finished with a 40-42 record despite a Pythagorean win total of 48, which would have landed them a playoff berth. Instead, Adelman’s crew stumbled in close games and slipped out of the playoff picture in a strong Western Conference.

Love forced his way out of town in the off-season and with the acquisition of number-one overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves were suddenly no longer playoff contenders and Martin was a 31 year-old, no-defense wing scorer on a cellar dweller.

Let’s take a look at Martin’s 2014-15 campaign and what we can expect heading into 2015-16.


It’s impossible to understate just how bad of a defender Martin was last season. He’s always been bad defensively, of course, but playing heavy minutes alongside rookies Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins exposed his weaknesses even more.

Martin ranked 85th out of 95 eligible shooting guards in ESPN’s NBA Defensive Real Plus-Minus statistic. The Wolves allowed -3.07 points more per 100 possessions when Martin was on the floor — not good.’s Defensive Box Plus-Minus statistic (a measurement similar to ESPN’s) had Martin at -3.9, easily the worst of his career, and even Martin hadn’t seen a mark worse than -3 since back in 2008-09, his last year in Sacramento.

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Martin should grade out a bit better in 2015-16, as a healthy Ricky Rubio and more experienced Wiggins will make a big difference. Add in 50-65 games of Kevin Garnett and a rim protector in Karl-Anthony Towns and everyone’s defensive metrics should be greatly improved.

But that doesn’t make Martin’s issues go away, of course. He’s still a terrible one-on-one defender and a sometimes-spectator, sometimes-gambler in help situations.


Despite being one of the worst defenders in the entire NBA, Martin will have a rotation spot in the NBA for at least the next half-decade due to this scoring proficiency.

I’ll let Zach Lowe at Grantland explain why Martin is a useful offensive player, and also why he’s still less valuable than he was just a couple of seasons ago.

"It wasn’t long ago that Kevin Martin was freaking awesome — an advanced-stats darling who canned 3s, got to the line at an absurd rate, and did enough on offense that you could almost ignore the damage he inflicted on the other end. He’s still pretty good; he averaged 21.5 points per 36 minutes last season, and he’s clearly a better player than LaVine today. The Wolves don’t really care.…Martin doesn’t feel as well suited for the NBA of the 2010s — the NBAwhere Tom Thibodeau’s overloading defenses forced teams to get creative on offense and keep the ball flying side-to-side. Martin’s not really a catch-and-go guy off the ball, and he’s not a lead dog pick-and-roll distributor who picks out shooters all over the floor. He has cracked three assists per 36 minutes just once in his career. He likes to run off screens, catch the ball, survey the landscape, and go to work one-on-one."

Here’s Martin’s shot chart from 2015-16.

Martin attempted a staggering 46.1% of his shots from outside the paint and inside the arc. That’s way too much chucking from mid-range, especially for a guy who has shot 38.5% from three-point range over 11 seasons.

Only about 30% of Martin’s shot attempts came from downtown, a number that should spike a bit playing alongside Rubio and in what could be a more free-flowing offense under interin head coach Sam Mitchell.

Through the first seven seasons of Martin’s career, he had a free throw rate of .547, meaning that he went to the free throw line nearly 55% of the time he attempted a field goal. In the four seasons since, after the NBA changed the rule on the “rip-through” move and as Martin hit his age-28 and beyond seasons, that number has plummeted to just .323.

That has made Martin significantly less valuable as an offensive player, and with the defensive shortcomings that remain and only continue to get worse, he’s relinquished his former borderline-star status and is now barely a plus player.

All that said, he’s still far and away the best long-range shooter on the Wolves roster and will be relied upon to lead the bench in scoring and provide the same kind of punch that he did for a 60-win team in Oklahoma City three seasons ago while averaging 14 points per game and shooting a career-best 42.6% from beyond the arc.


As mentioned, Martin will be expected to launch three-pointers and get to the free throw line as a sixth-man of sorts. It’s a role that he has been open about not loving during his time with the Thunder, and he clearly is not interested in reprising the role in Minnesota.

It does seem as though he’ll be a good soldier, however, and if he isn’t there will likely be no shortage of suitors on the trade market. We touched on some potential landing spots in our review of Lowe’s piece on Grantland, but let’s just say the Wolves should have their options if they choose to go that route sooner rather than later.

Statistical Outlook

Martin won’t average 20 points per game like he did a year ago as a starter if his reserve spot sticks. Look for something similar to his 2012-13 per-game numbers with the Thunder but without the same efficiency.

We’ll call it 15 points per game with a 43% field goal mark and 39.5% from beyond the arc. It’ll be huge to have Martin’s scoring ability off the bench, but his relative efficiency will be sorely missed in the starting lineup.

Other Player Previews:

Andrew Wiggins

Zach Lavine

Gorgui Dieng

Kevin Garnett

Ricky Rubio

Shabazz Muhammad

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