This is the 11th in a 14-part series evaluating each Timberwolves player’s performance during the 2013-14 season. Find the entire series here.
During his first season in the Twin Cities, Kevin Martin displayed propensities for both the magnificent and the maddening.
Although he’s somewhat past his prime, the 31-year-old shooting guard did what the Timberwolves signed him to do — score points, hit 3s, get to the foul stripe. When it came to these facets, Martin achieved.
But he didn’t overachieve.
Rarely did Martin take over a game by himself. It was even less commonplace to see him make any semblance of a defensive play.
In short, Minnesota got exactly what it expected when Martin came here in a four-year, sign-and-trade deal worth $28 million.
The only more reliable scorer than Martin on the Timberwolves’ roster was voted in as an All-Star starter. Complementing Kevin Love’s inside-outside game, Martin relished the starting role he didn’t have during 2012-13 in Oklahoma City. His 19.1 points per game were his most since 2010-11, his first of two seasons in Houston, and only eight times in 68 games played did he fail to reach double figures. The shifty, 6-foot-7, 185-pound sharpshooter aggravated defenders with his unorthodox form and ability to draw fouls and convert at the foul stripe. Martin made 89 percent of his free throws for a third straight season, ranking fourth in the NBA at the end of the regular season.
3-point shooting: B
The No. 1 reason president of basketball operations Flip Saunders maneuvered for Martin’s services is his ability to hit the 3-point shot. At 30.5 percent last season, Minnesota posted one of the worst 3-point clips in league history and ranked dead last in the NBA. Martin came in and hit a respectable 38.7 percent of his 3s, tops on his new team. But that mark is about four percent worse than last year — and with the Thunder, Martin took 371 3s compared to 297 this season. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, improved only marginally from distance; their 34.1 percent clip ranked 26th in the league.
No one expected Martin, long reputed for playing lackluster defense, to reunite with coach Rick Adelman — previously his coach in Sacramento and Houston — and suddenly become a lockdown stopper. But any professional athlete making a seven-figure salary is expected to at least try. The occasional Martin steal (he averaged one per game) registered as surprising, because he often stuck with his charge on the perimeter for a brief moment before allowing the bigs behind him to try and protect the rim. With Minnesota lacking a viable paint defender in its starting lineup, the Timberwolves yielded an opponent field-goal percentage of 47.1 percent that tied for second-worst in the NBA. That problem goes way beyond Martin, but he certainly played a part therein.
Overall, Martin’s first go-round in the Minnesota lineup was adequate. He served as the volume shooter the Timberwolves desperately needed before 2013-14, but not much else. Though, skilled, he’s limited, incapable of consistently changing the dynamic of a game all by himself. For that reason, his contract would suggest Saunders overpaid him — though the former coach argues everyone in the increasingly popular NBA makes more than he may be worth. Martin has three seasons left on his deal, but having played 10 seasons and admitting he’s not feeling as young as he used to, it’s unclear how many of those years he’ll play out before mulling retirement.