Kelan Martin impressed for the Minnesota Timberwolves during Las Vegas Summer League. Could he have a future with the Wolves?
More likely than not, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be a mediocre team in 2019-20.
The team has committed towards freeing up salary cap space for the summer of 2020. That is when the $19 million contract of Jeff Teague comes off the books, and they could choose to use the stretch provision on Gorgui Dieng.
Together, those moves would free up over $30 million for the organization to pursue a free agent seeking the maximum, including Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and DeMar DeRozan, pending the exercising of his player option.
However, in order for Minnesota to be a viable landing spot for free agents, a lot revolves around how the players respond to head coach Ryan Saunders and the improvements the team makes during the upcoming season. The Wolves’ youth movement is in full effect, and there will be lots of opportunity for playing time.
That means that there could be a chance for first-year wing Kelan Martin to make an impact with the Wolves on the heels of a fantastic performance in Las Vegas Summer League.
Martin has an impressive résumé. He played college ball in Indianapolis for the Butler Bulldogs, and his stats improved all four years, beginning as a freshmen when he averaged 7.1 points per game to where he ended as a senior at 21.2 points per game.
He finished his college career with 2,047 points, which was the third-highest in the school’s history. Over the course of his four years, Martin was named to the All-Big East Second Team twice and made the All-Big East First Team as a senior. In his final two seasons, he had a usage rate over 30 percent and a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) over 20 while shooting the 3-pointer at a 34.8 percent clip.
His Summer League numbers have also gotten better year-over-year. Last season, in seven games he averaged just over eight points per game while only shooting 30 percent on long distance while playing for the Utah Jazz. This yea, Martin is coming off a much improved Summer League: 12.8 points per game, 40 percent from long-range, and a 23.54 PER with a usage rate of just 20.1 percent.
Martin only played 21.8 minutes per contest yet showed poise on the court with the ability to score the basketball off the bench and got better as the tournament wore on.
At 23 years old, 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Martin could be a hidden gem for the Wolves as a non-roster invitee to training camp. Martin has the frame to play both forward positions with the versatility to score in the post and step outside to knock down the 3-pointer.
After all, Josh Okogie found himself buried on the bench early last season, but he finished the year in the starting lineup. Martin could find himself in a similar career path despite going undrafted in 2018 and playing overseas last season.
This franchise is built around cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Wiggins. While the NBA regular season is a different beast than Summer League, Martin has a chance to not only make the Timberwolves roster but also earn some valuable playing time.