Many people believed that the Minnesota Timberwolves overpaid Kevin Martin this summer in NBA Free Agency. After serving as the sixth man for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Martin agreed to join the Wolves for a deal that will pay him just under $28 million of guaranteed money over the next four seasons.
While Martin may have seemed not worth that price tag in the offseason, he has certainly proved his worth through the first quarter-or-so of the season. He’s cooled off slightly as of late, but Martin has been a huge offensive weapon for Minnesota. For the year, the wing is averaging 20.6 points and 2.2 assists in 33.8 minutes per game. He’s shooting just 40.6 percent from the field, but is knocking down an impressive 40.8 percent of his three-point attempts while taking 5.4 per game. Moreover, he’s getting to the charity stripe six times per night, making a near ideal 92.8 percent of his free throws.
On Monday night against the Boston Celtics, though, Martin was sitting out due to what the team called a sore left knee. Though Kevin Love delivered an impressive performance, his efforts weren’t enough to take down Boston as they fell by a score of 101-97.
What this game really showed is the value of Martin to this team, though. With Martin out, the Wolves were forced to start Robbie Hummel. Though Hummel is a good story who has given solid minutes off of the bench, he’s nowhere near the weapon that Martin is. More than that, though, the Wolves were forced to give guys like Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea more run, which isn’t a positive thing considering how mightily those two have been struggling.
The Wolves made a concerted effort to add depth on the wings this season, but with Chase Budinger still out, the Wolves desperately need Martin if they are going to have any success. Martin helps spread the offense, which not only allows him to knock down shots on the perimeter, but also opens up the interior a bit for Ricky Rubio penetration and for Nikola Pekovic to operate. Martin isn’t the leader of the Wolves, but he’s one of the biggest keys to this team realizing their potential this season.