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He’s healthy enough to play. We saw big things from him this preseason. He’s been highly touted ever since high school.
But will he live up to the standards?
Martell Webster’s return to this team could either mean one of two things; 1) The Wolves are receiving a huge boost out of the blue and a guy that could potentially crack the starting lineup given a few great performances; Or 2) Yet another souped-up Corey Brewer that will be nothing more than a 15-minute-per-game role player.
I never followed Webster very closely during his time in Portland for a few reasons. Apparently he was ready to come into the league as a high schooler and really dominate but we never saw it. He soon became overshadowed by the stardom of Brandon Roy and lost playing time that way. And finally he started losing even more playing time to the likes of Rudy Fernandez — Ouch. It’s easy to say that he’s just never lived up to the hype and became a simple bystander of the NBA’s hierarchy — If you can’t play, then get the hell out of here.
But perhaps with any ounce of hype still there, Webster could slowly start to develop here in ‘Sota. We’ve seen it in the likes of Mike Beasley and his newfound attitude this year which has led to nothing but good things for himself and the Wolves. Minnesota is a place of player development. David Kahn said that he wanted Minnesota to be a place of player development and growth when he first arrived. Players can come here to slow down, get a drip of themselves and figure out their role as an NBA player. I really didn’t understand the reasoning behind that dream but it becomes clear as day when you consider Beasley’s season.
So what are we going to see from Webster when he returns — hopefully Tuesday night at Golden State — and what kind of contribution is he really going to make for the rest of the season?
Of the two reasons I listed above, I’m going to take the middle-ground — I’m such a copout. Webster’s going to improve our overall strength, speed and athleticism, something that Wayne Ellington — the guy he’ll steal minutes from upon returning — has failed to do in his role. Webster is a 6-foot-7 wing and built like a bull but can run down the court just as well as any guard could. His natural tendency is to stalk the three-point line, where he’s shot a career 37-percent from. He plays hard-nosed defense and, thanks to his big frame, is a pretty successful defender.
All of those attributes I listed there similarly describe the game of Corey Brewer. Sorta scary, ain’t it? While I do think that a lot of their game’s have similar elements, Webster is going to produce more, but the key here is that he’s going to do it a lot more efficiently than Brewer.
Brewer has a dismal career PER of 10.73. The easiest way to sum that poor score up is to tell you that the league average this season is 15. Despite not playing yet this season, which does skew the scales considerably, Webster has a career 11.53 PER. The 0.8 difference may not look like much now, but once Webster starts accumulating minutes and producing, the differential should increase.
The reason I believe that differential will increase is coupled with the reasons I already told you why Webster is better than Brewer: He’s bigger, stronger, faster and, a characteristic that cannot be measured by statistics, smarter. Webster makes good decisions on the court. He’s a unique veteran player in that he’s only 24-years old but already has five seasons under his belt. He rarely commits turnovers, (1.31 career average) which is something that Brewer has struggled with throughout his career given his ball-handling abilities. Ultimately, he’s the veteran-type player the Wolves have been looking for that just seems to do all of the little things right and does it as efficiently as possible.
The facts are laid out in front of us. Now all that has to happen is for Webster to actually come back and see what he can contribute to this team. If in fact he returns and is a 10-ppg player that squeezes his way into the starting lineup, then you can consider this team to be a lot better, and I mean a 25-30 win season may not be out of the question. Even if he just returns as a 15-mpg role player, we should all be content with that too. Because at this point in the game, anything will help this inconsistent bunch.