#TwolfRank: #4 Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin will improve Minnesota’s spacing and 3-point shooting.

Welcome to the second annual #TwolfRank. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, to say the least. Here is the eighth part in this roster-long series and we are officially halfway through. As always, you can follow Jonah (@howlintwolf), Tom (@Tom_NBA) and Derek (@DerekJamesNBA) on Twitter as well to partake in the fun.

Offseasons are tricky beasts for NBA GMs.

On the one hand, a general manager has empirical evidence of certain things from previous seasons. The Mavericks, last year, sucked at rebounding. The Bucks needed a more efficient point guard. The Magic needed…well, the Magic kind of needed everything. These are the most obvious needs and fixes, and they must be dealt with accordingly.

On the other hand, a GM has to balance the empirical evidence — in Minnesota’s case, the fact that the team needed to acquire 3-point shooters badly— with the hypotheticals. You know the grisly numbers: The Wolves were 30th from 3-point range, shooting .305 from behind the arc. The number was hurt by Minnesota’s many, many injuries, but it was abundantly clear the Wolves needed What will this 3-point shooter bring? Can he defend? If so, does he fit our defensive schemes? If not, can we compensate either by hiding him or by simply outscoring the opponent?

Kevin Martin’s addition to the Wolves seems like an attempt at the latter. Martin, who shot a blistering 42.6% from 3-point range last season including 49.4% at home, will go a long way toward solving Minnesota’s 3-point issues. He is an extremely talented scorer who can boost a team in a variety of ways. In the 2012-13 season, Martin’s +/- for Oklahoma City was 5.7; an important stat, in part, because Martin’s defensive deficiencies are easily measurable. But teams can hide a bad defender, and Martin’s offensive skills will be a valuable weapon for the Wolves.

Much has been made of coach Rick Adelman’s connection and familiarity with Martin from their shared years in Sacramento, and their comfort level certainly won’t hurt. But Martin’s role will be more important, and he is a perfect fit for Minnesota. In the starting lineup, Martin will be far from the focal point. I hesitate to start comparing options (as in: Kevin Love will be the “No. 1 option on offense”) because the first option should be the open player, and with Pek and Love, perimeter players should be able to find plenty of space. So whether he is the first, second, third or fourth option in a play, the most important role Martin will provide is spacing. His 3-point shooting will be huge in freeing up the lane for driving players (Rubio), diving players off the pick-and-roll (Pek) and whatever it is Love feels like doing at any given time.

Hand-off 3-point attempts may also be a way to utilize Martin well. In 2012-13, on hand-off attempts, he started the season 10-12 from 3-point range, and although he cooled off a bit as the year progressed, incorporating Oklahoma City’s hand-off set for Martin could be a great weapon for Minnesota.

It’s the simplest play imaginable with devastating results when Martin is hitting from deep. Here’s how it works (worth noting: this play also works well with Martin moving toward the baseline):

Martin gets the ball above the break. He passes to Collison and follows his pass. His defender is forced to go under the screen (at which point Martin steps back and fires an open 3-pointer) or go over the screen, allowing Martin to zip into the lane. Collison is an excellent big man, the type of player who not only sets a solid screen but can also deliver a pass at precisely the right moment. This is harder than it seems; Collison has to concentrate on two things — handing the ball off and setting the screen — while not committing a violation.

Martin, however, finds himself headed to a team with two big men who can run this play extremely effectively. Pekovic — who is enormous, in case you hadn’t heard — sets solid screens and will force players to go a LONG ways around him. If Pek’s man switches onto Martin, he is still fast enough to take a big off the dribble. Love is not only a very solid passer, he can also do everything else to make this play dangerous. Collison, while an admirable player, is not the kind of shooter at any range that Love is, nor nearly as good off the dribble.

There’s another option as well for Martin:

This play amounts to little more than a hand-off pick-and-roll, and it would open up considerably if Martin knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in a game off hand-offs. Defenses would suck into him, which would spring Love or Pekovic for a dive to the basket.

In 2012-13, Martin shot 27% from 3-9 feet and 49% from 10-15. There are, in essence, two places he should be willing to shoot from: The 3-point range (where his eFG% was 64.1, per HoopData.com) or at the rim, where he shot 73%. Martin is the perfect role-scorer for the modern NBA: A 3-point shooter who takes very few twos unless he is right next to the hoop. A team that desperately needed role scorers, the Wolves may find themselves very well off with the return of Chase Budinger (outlined by Derek yesterday) and the arrival of Martin.

It’s possible, of course, that the Wolves have over-adjusted. It’s possible they will score 102 points and give up 103 on too many evenings to break their playoff drought.

But it’s comforting to see a general manager make moves to correct last season’s failings. Projecting for the future is important, but learning from the past is more accurate. And if the past is any indicator, the addition of Martin may go a long way towards helping fix last season’s most blatant issue.

Here are your thoughts:

@JJDacotah: finally a normal sized SG. Good scorer and outside shooter, should play well coming back to Adelman’s system.

‏@BreakTheHuddle: I believe Martin’s shot is difficult to block because he’s right-handed, but shoots the ball from a lefty’s release point. #Wolves

@TP_King: he’d be great in a pickup game

‏@KWAPT: Coming off a career best .426 from beyond the arc, gives Wolves a much needed deep threat & speedy weapon in transition. #TwolfRank

@thedailywolf: Martin could start for the #Twolves tomorrow, blind folded, and fit in seamlessly. Excellent 3-PT shooter and backdoor cut artist.

@ZSchneiderK Mart is the perfect remedy for the Wolves’ past woes…an excellent 3pt shooter and efficient scorer that will help floor spacing

@nickjj42: Great shooter. Gets to the free throw line. Perfect fit for Ricks offense. Will get lots of open shots with Rubio and compan

@the_real_gabby: he’s an actual SG, and thrived under adelman twice. is he going to be a all star? probably not, but i dont care. he can score.

 ‏@Ry4n_SmItHnot consistent enough

@InfraRenI think it’s a bigger deal than it’s been made. He is EXACTLY what we’ve needed. Scorer, shooter and optimal in RA’s system.

Want to take part? Look for one of us to tweet out who the next player will be and tweet us your thoughts on him using the #TwolfRank hashtag and we’ll throw your tweet in the post.