Timberwolves Player Preview: Kevin Martin

USA TODAY Sports

Today's preview focuses on new acquisition and starting shooting guard Kevin Martin.

Kevin Martin
6'7" Shooting guard
30 Years old

How Acquired: Martin was acquired in July of this year via a sign and trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder, for whom he played last season.  The Wolves sent Luke Ridnour to Milwaukee in the deal, and wound up with Martin signed to a new 4 year, $28M contract.

What's impressive about Martin is his scoring efficiency.  Last year's .608 True Shooting percentange was good for 8th in the league, and he is in the top 20 in NBA history.  The man scores efficiently because he makes a lot of three pointers and he takes and makes a lot of free throws, the two best ways of scoring in the NBA.

He is, at age 30, not the same player he was at his peak.  Last season, coming off the bench for Oklahoma City, he recorded his lowest rate of free throws per 36 minutes in his career. His 4.1 FTAs/36 is a far cry from the years he averaged over 9, and we can attribute this to two things: rules changes that made his signature rip through move a non-shooting foul, and a large change in role.

Though he was still a significant scorer off the bench for OKC, he was not the centerpiece of the offense as he had been with both Sacramento and Houston.  His usage fell to an eight year low at 21% with the Thunder, and he was much more of a spot up three point shooter in Scott Brooks' offense.  He succeeded in that role, making over 42% of his threes and recording the aforementioned .608 TS%, but he was no longer expected to create offense going to the rim as he had at his previous stops, especially under Rick Adelman.


His role in Minnesota will probably be much more like it was in Houston under Adelman, since unlike Oklahoma City, he'll be the best guard/wing scorer on the roster, with the other primary scoring options occupying front court positions.

It's unreasonable to expect a return to the 27 year old Martin, who averaged 26 points/36 minutes and carried a nearly 30% usage rate, but expect him to be heavily used on offense when he's on the floor.  In his last truly big season, in 2010-11, he took almost the same number of shots inside 10 feet as he did three pointers.  Over the last two years, under coaches other than Adelman, his percentage of shots in the paint compared to three pointers has gone down significantly, which is one of the reasons his free throws have gone down as well.

2010-11

Split Value FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% eFG% Ast'd %Ast'd
Shot Distance At Rim 166 236 .703 0 0 .703 95 .572
3 to <10 ft 61 162 .377 0 0 .377 15 .246
10 to <16 ft 56 133 .421 0 0 .421 14 .250
16 ft to <3-pt 94 277 .339 0 0 .339 57 .606
3-pt 176 459 .383 176 459 .383 .575 153 .869

2012-13

Split Value FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% eFG% Ast'd %Ast'd
Shot Distance At Rim 94 139 .676 0 0 .676 71 .755
3 to <10 ft 31 101 .307 0 0 .307 8 .258
10 to <16 ft 43 107 .402 0 0 .402 19 .442
16 ft to <3-pt 56 143 .392 0 0 .392 32 .571
3-pt 175 417 .420 175 417 .420 .629 165 .943

Data Courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com

He will never average 9+ FTAs/36 again, but I expect the mix of shots he gets to head back toward where it has historically been under Adelman, with rim attacking re-emerging as part of his game.

The question with Martin is health. In five of his nine seasons, he has failed to appear in at least 20 of his team's games.  His minutes per game have also declined to last year's 27 per. My guess is that Adelman would like to limit him to around 30 minutes a night in an attempt to keep him healthy.  I think we have to expect him to miss some games this year, much like Andrei Kirilenko did for the Wolves last season.

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.

One more look at what he can do, this time against the Wolves:


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