Towards the end of the preseason I shared a link to a post I had written for my site, Hickory-High, profiling Martell Webster using Expected Scoring. Webster was lighting it up in the preseason and I was pretty optimistic in my predictions of his performance for this season. A commentor, who did not share my rosy outlook, asked me to revisit those numbers on Webster after 25 games.
Well, I'm back and I'd like to see I might have gotten a little carried away before the season started. Here's my initial analysis on Webster and here's the recent update. I shared a few of the highlights below.
If you’ve missed my other posts on the subject, Expected Points uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals. The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.
Webster was shooting the lights out during preseason and at that time had a Point Differential of +3.46. Basically he shooting on long two pointers and three pointers has regressed to about the league average. He still scores at a rate higher than expected, but nowhere near what he was doing in the preseason.
He's taking about the same number of shots as in the preseason so the decline is all about shooting percentages. Webster is shooting about as well as he did his last season in Portland. I expected his numbers to fall off a little from the preseason but I expected them to be better than what he was doing in Portland.
Nevertheless, I think there is still reason for optimism. Injuries have obviously slowed him down. He also has only a quarter of a season in the triangle under his belt. He's also not being used to maximum efficiency:
Webster is averaging 1.41 PPP in transition, 1.29 PPP coming off screens, 1.08 PPP as a spot up shooter and 1.57 PPP on cuts to the basket. Those four situations account for 53.4% of the possessions he’s used this season. He’s averaging 0.41 PPP in isolations, 0.70 PPP as a pick and roll ball handler and 0.91 PPP on hand offs. Those three situations account for 29.3% of his possessions used and he has been extremely ineffective in those cases. 20.7% of his three point attempts have come out of those three scenarios and he’s shooting just 18.8% from three in those cases.
Basically, he’s terrific when catching and shooting, finishing opportunities that others have created for him. When he’s asked to use his dribble to create opportunities for himself and teammates he’s not nearly as effective. The problem is that the Timberwolves don’t have a lot of shot creators. Beasley is very much a black hole, Love is a finisher and none of the other wings have much inclination in this regard.
Hopefully, he can get healthy and get consistent. I was wrong about his production so far this season, but I still think he has the potential to be a terrificly efficient and versatile offensive weapon.