Archives For Kevin Martin

SWORD

“Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

-Hebrews, 4:12

I don’t often begin posts about basketball with quotes from scripture. But when thinking of the term “double-edged sword,” my mind inevitably wanders back to my Catholic education and the place I first heard it, the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews. The quote above is in reference to God’s word, and is often misinterpreted due to the presence of the term “two-edged” or “double-edged” sword. In this instance, it’s merely a noun; it could just as easily read “sharper than any axe” or “sharper than any dagger.”

“Double-edged sword” usually signifies something appearing to be a benefit that can also be a curse. The reason this interpretation applies to the 2014-15 Minnesota Timberwolves is that they have a ton of depth (good), but not nearly enough minutes to make all of the players on the roster happy (not so good). Continue Reading…

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Remember the year the Timberwolves drafted 4 point guards in one year?  Even though (#welltechnically) two of them were used as picks for another team in a trade that was already agreed to, while another stayed in Spain for two more years. Remember how, despite the insistence from anyone who looked at the roster, the “Wolves have a lot of point guards” narrative stuck around like a bad habit?

It’s funny, because you could argue that this year is the year the Wolves are stacked up on guards. In fact, not counting Kevin Martin, the starting shooting guard, you could say that every other backcourt player on this year’s team is a point guard.

That’s okay, though. As Flip Saunders said at media day, nobody on the roster, at this point, is all that redundant. Ricky Rubio is a passer. Mo Williams a shooter. Zach LaVine is an athletic combo guard. We still have training camp to figure out what the final roster will look like, but as of right now, the power of the point guard is strong in Minnesota.

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The first true superstar to play for the Wolves was Kevin Garnett, a power forward. Eventually, he was traded for Al Jefferson, a power forward/center, who was eventually (and, arguably, unnecessarily) replaced by Kevin Love, a power forward. Heck, even Tom Gugliotta and Christian Laettner put up big numbers for the Wolves in the early-to-mid 90s.

Power forwards have led the Timberwolves for nearly the entire existence of the franchsie. Thaddeus Young has a chance to lead the team in scoring this year, but for the first time in nearly two decades, the current shape of the franchise does not revolve around the development of a promising young power forward.

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LoveLee

Kevin Garnett got traded.

Not like, recently, but he got traded back in 2007 when the dream of the Minnesota Timberwolves putting something significant around one of the greatest all around players ever to lace up the kicks had been taken off of life support. Because of the soul-sucking numbness that trade caused 25-year old Zach Harper (YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT! THIRD PERSON TALK, SON!), the eventual trade of Kevin Love hasn’t left me devastated or annoyed or angry. It’s just been something that we all knew was a possibility when David Kahn put the Wolves in the situation of three years with an opt out.

I won’t pretend I was outraged at the time. I wrote that it put pressure on the organization and it was something that would force them to become good or risk losing him. I’m a big fan of forcing the cream to rise to the top because it weeds out who belongs and who doesn’t belong. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for the Wolves. Their two best chances at making the playoffs came the last two seasons. In 2012-13, they were decimated by injuries and couldn’t field decent teams. In 2013-14, the Wolves simply weren’t good enough and the clock was ticking on Kevin Love’s free agency.

Love will be traded. He’s not going to stay. And it’s on the Wolves’ management/owner/coach to bring back the best return in a deal that will almost always be a losing cause. Therein lies the problem of the entire situation.  Continue Reading…

Kevin Martin2

We’re kicking off our offseason coverage here at A Wolf Among Wolves with a comprehensive roster review of the team from this past season, looking at how each player’s 2012-13 went and what we see for them going forward. One player a day for the next couple weeks, starting with the bench and rolling up to the starters.

Kevin Martin came to the Timberwolves via a July 11th sign-and-trade deal, inking a 4 year, $27.75 million contract, and immediately became the best shooting guard in Minnesota history. For a team that ranked dead last in the NBA in perimeter shooting in 2013-14 and in the bottom half of the league in free throw percentage, K-Mart was a sight for sore eyes. Employing unconventional (though effective) shot mechanics, the tenth-year man from Western Carolina brought a 38.5% career mark from outside the arc to Minneapolis. Between Martin, a healthy Kevin Love and a healthy Chase Budinger, the Timberwolves had every reason to hope their offensive woes would be solved, at least partially, by the sheer force of success from three-point land. Observers also wondered if his ability to get to the foul line (where he converts 86.9% of the time, 24th-best in NBA history) would return after a year of being utilized primarily as a spot-up shooter in Oklahoma City.

The results were somewhat mixed. Statistically, Martin turned in a season on par with his per-36 minute career averages. He scored 21.5 points, grabbed 3.4 rebounds and dished out 2.0 assists on 43/39/89 shooting splits. Over his decade in the league, those numbers are 20.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 44/39/87 splits. On the surface, he seemed like the same guy he’s always been, but once you look a little closer, you begin to see that wasn’t exactly the case.

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If you have ESPN Insider and a stout constitution, you should go read Tom Haberstroh‘s post on the Timberwolves in general and Kevin Martin in particular in the superclutch (defined as one possession games in the final minute) right here.

But if you don’t, let me share the highlights (read: lowlights).

I present to you the single craziest stat of the 2013-14 season: In one-possession games (score within three) in the final minute — also known as “superclutch” situations — the Timberwolves have been outscored by 49 points in 22 minutes of action this season. I repeat: 49 points.

Minnesota’s opponents have scored 96 points to the Timberwolves’ 47. The Timberwolves have been more than doubled up in these tight situations. The result is that, when it should be a coin flip in these situations, Minnesota has lost 18 of those 25 games. Continue Reading…

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The Minnesota Timberwolves need to hit more shots.

The end.

Okay, that’s not totally the end. That would be an extremely short post of basketball analysis, but at this point in the season I am of the belief that this is the crux of the Wolves’ issue with the 2013-14 season. It’s hard to judge the disappointment of everything going on because the expectations and preseason guessing are what creates the disappointment. If we all went into this season with the expectation the Wolves would miss the playoffs and had no real chance at getting some postseason experience, would we be disappointed at all?  Continue Reading…

It was easy to say that the Wolves’ horrifying struggles in close games were a statistical anomaly. In the abstract, we always knew that a few lucky bounces were all that separated the Wolves from a record more befitting their point differential. (Seriously, how strange is it that for all of this team’s problems, they could easily be sitting in the fifth or sixth seed right now?) But after seeing how this team has performed in close games it became much harder to imagine how they would actually manage to win one. This wasn’t just bad luck; there are actual reasons that the Wolves have been so bad in late-game situations. They are short on shooters, which allows teams to trap ballhandlers and collapse into the paint. Their offense relies on getting to the free-throw line and refs tend to swallow their whistles late in games. They are given to moments of insane decision-making.  They are simply inconsistent in their execution on both ends of the floor.

It’s not as if any of these things changed on Friday evening in Oakland. In the final three minutes of this impossibly close game, the Wolves did the following: committed a turnover on an entry pass; nearly committed a shot-clock violation; missed a wide-open three; fouled a three-point shooter; committed a foul in the backcourt, up one with 30 seconds to go while in the penalty.

But, somehow, they made just enough plays to win the game, and a road game against a playoff team at that. Ricky Rubio made a midrange jumper after Love fought through a triple team to shovel him the ball. Brewer hit an incredibly cold-blooded, contested corner three. They were able to get the ball out of Stephen Curry’s hands on the final key possessions. Finally, Kevin Martin hit a clutch, last-second jumper, the first such shot for the Wolves, really, since the season’s first game. Make no mistake: this was a huge win for the Wolves and, at the risk of undue optimism, one that could set them on a new path.

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Kevin Martin

Despite scoring 105.1 points per 100 possessions, the 10th-best mark in the NBA, and despite the dominance of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic (especially recently) on that end of the floor, it’s easy to spot flaws in Minnesota’s offensive attack. Rick Adelman’s bunch currently ranks 25th in effective field goal percentage (47.9%) and 23rd in three-point shooting (34.7%). Their reliance on getting to the free throw line (only Houston and the Clippers get there more often) is an adequate staple to the Wolves’ offensive diet, but the paradox is still unnerving. The Timberwolves have a moderately successful offense, but are bad at making shots. How can that be? Continue Reading…

Rubio Layup

By now, you know all the gaudy accolades Kevin Love is stockpiling. If you don’t know them by heart, it’s owed to information overload rather than apathy. Love was the first player in NBA history with 160 points, 80 rebounds and 30 assists in his first six games of the season (according to the Elias Sports Bureau). He’s first player in NBA history with at least four 3-pointers, 19 rebounds and seven assists in a game (via Sportando). Lengthy homages are paid to his outlet passing. He and Ricky Rubio teamed up for one of the best ESPN basketball commercials in recent memory. Countless, terrific features are being written about him by very talented people. His re-emergence as a dominant force, following a lost season in 2012-13, has been the talk of the league through its first three weeks.

If you care to branch out a bit, you may learn about Corey Brewer, who is garnering attention for being on the receiving end of many of Love’s patented outlets, as well as for bringing energy to the floor every single night. You might consider the blazing start Kevin Martin’s put together, scoring at least 20 points in 9 of the 10 games he’s appeared and hitting nearly half (21/43) of his three-pointers from the left side of the floor. You may have even noticed Nikola Pekovic getting in on the fun, the $60 million man recovering from a slow beginning to average 17.3 points and 8.8 boards on nearly 74% shooting over his past four games.

But why not dig even deeper? The Wolves average more than 102 possessions per 48 minutes — Minnesota’s offense is more than Corey Brewer in transition, Nikola Pekovic in the paint, Kevin Martin shooting threes and Kevin Love doing everything. So what else happens? What can we learn about the team by focusing on a couple of the lesser-known, quirkier elements of their offensive attack? Continue Reading…