Martell Webster: 2013-14 Washington Wizards Player Review
TAI’s 2013-14 Washington Wizards player reviews…Now: Martell Webster (by Adam Rubin).
Others (so far): Andre Miller (by Rashad Mobley); Drew Gooden (by John Converse Townsend); Kevin Seraphin (by Kyle Weidie); Trevor Ariza (by Conor Dirks); Al Harrington (by Kyle Weidie); Garrett Temple (by Adam Rubin); Trevor Booker (by Adam Rubin); Glen Rice, Jr. (by John Converse Townsend); Chris Singleton (by Kyle Weidie).
6-7 : Height
230 lbs. : Weight
27 : Age
9 : Years NBA Experience
3 : NBA Teams
Signed a four-year, $22 million contract with the Wizards last summer
after playing in Washington for the veteran’s minimum in 2012-13.
Time as a Wizard in 2013-14
78 : Games
13 : Starts
2,157 : Minutes
NBA historical PER contribution equivalent:
maybe Keith Bogans with the 2007-08 Orlando Magic (10.9)
maybe Kevin Grevey with the 1981-82 Washington Bullets (11.7)
.112 Win Shares/48 Minutes
NBA historical WS/48 contribution equivalent:
maybe Walt Williams for the 1995-96 Kings and Heat (.112)
maybe Bob Sura for the 1999-00 Cleveland Cavaliers (.107)
With Webster ON the court vs. off
The Wizards offense scored 2.5 points more per 100 possessions (OffRtg)
The Wizards defense allowed 5.4 points more per 100 possessions (DefRtg)
Plus/Minus per 48 minutes: minus-0.3
Numbers, per 36 Minutes
12.7 : Points
3.7 : Rebounds
0.3 : Blocks
0.7 : Steals
1.6 : Assists
1.0 : Turnovers
2.5 : Fouls
Webster had 743 offensive possessions with the Wizards that ended with a FGA, TO or FTs, and he scored 1.07 Points Per Possession (PPP) on those, ranked 18th in the NBA (via Synergy Sports Technology). Defensively, he allowed 0.97 PPP over 694 possessions, ranked 388th in the NBA.
43.3% Field Goals (254-587)
39.2% 3-Pointers (146-372)
84% Free Throws (105-125)
What did we expect?
Let’s go back to July 2013. As TAI’s John Converse Townsend detailed in his season preview, Martell was a free agent after posting career highs in almost every stat imaginable and Ernie Grunfeld had just selected Otto Porter with the third overall pick in the draft. When Ernie offered Martell a very generous and very long four-year, $22 million contract, my guess is he expected Webster to be Washington’s starting small forward for the next few years while Otto was groomed to take over that role. Trevor Ariza and his expiring contract were likely an afterthought in Grunfeld’s long-term small forward depth chart. As the Washington Post’s Michael Lee explained, even Trevor Ariza got the message: “I was like, ‘Okay, the writing is on the wall about what you guys think of me and the direction you guys are going in.” Hell, Ariza was almost traded last season for Caron Butler before Donald Sterling evidently pulled the plug.
What do they say about the best laid plans?
Ariza was named the starting small forward in training camp (Randy Wittman preferred his defense alongside John Wall and Bradley Beal and Webster’s scoring off the bench) and the rest is history. Martell said all the right things about coming off the bench, but you have to imagine he was disappointed.
Interestingly, Martell’s minutes and games played were almost identical the last two seasons (78 games, 2157 minutes, 27.7 mpg in 2013-14; 76 games, 2200 minutes, 28.9 mpg in 2012-13).
But the biggest difference is when those minutes were played. Martell started 62 of 76 games in his contract year but only 13 of 78 games this past season. That meant Webster spent most of his minutes as a spot up shooter on a second unit that could not create open looks for him. That may explain his small but significant drop in 3-point shooting from 42.2 to 39.2 percent.
Webster’s regular season was underwhelming. The most disconcerting part is that he seemed to get worse as the schedule progressed. He shot over 40 percent from 3-point range in each of the first three months then dropped to 36.7 percent over February, March and April. His minutes per game dropped steadily throughout the season as well.
And then came the playoffs. Lost in all the hoopla surrounding Washington’s “magical” run to the second round was Martell’s horrific playoff performance. It was not just the shooting. His 6-for-26 shooting from long range (23.1%) was unfortunate – especially when the team desperately needed scoring against Indiana – but that was not even half the story.
Martell’s defense was alarming. In Game 1 against the Chicago Bulls, Webster made Jimmy Butler look like Michael Jordan. It was like Webster was escorting him to the rim. Butler went after him every time he touched the ball. Nothing improved in the Indiana Pacers series. Paul George did not even bother making moves. He just drove right around Webster. For some reason, Martell could not move laterally. It was like he was playing in quicksand. When he was not picking up fouls or giving up baskets, Webster was often holding his man off the ball outside the view of the refs. This, more than anything, strikes fear in the hearts and minds of fans contemplating Ariza’s departure. Webster’s minutes dropped to 17.7 per game in the playoffs and you got the feeling they would have fallen much farther if Washington had any other feasible option at shooting guard or small forward.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is some statistical evidence that Martell could reclaim his contract year form if he regains his starter minutes. In the seven games when Webster played 40 or more minutes this season, he shot 43.3 percent from deep and scored 16.6 points per game. One can imagine how much easier the game would be for Webster if he were getting 6-to-8 wide open 3-pointers per game running with John Wall and the starters.
Ernie Grunfeld has created quite the log jam at small forward by committing long-term money to a back-up and using a top 3 pick on another small forward who is guaranteed $4.4 million next season but was unable to find the court much during his rookie year. In a perfect world, Ariza would be re-signed, Webster would be traded for frontcourt help, and Nerlens Noel would be headlining Washington’s summer league team. But we don’t live in a perfect world.
Grunfeld must decide if he has the stomach to spend upwards of $18 million on small forwards and, if so, how his coach is going to find minutes for all three players. As CSN’s Ben Standig argued, it’s simply not possible for all three to be in the rotation. He has a point. Standig notes that over the final 30 games of the regular season, Beal averaged 37 minutes and Ariza 35, leaving 24 minutes for Webster. Throw Otto into the mix and either he or Martell will be reduced to a 10 minute or less bit player. Of course, injuries can change the calculus, but you never want to build a roster based on the expectation of injuries. Committing the full mid-level exception or a top 3 pick to a player with no clear path to minutes is not a judicious use of scarce resources.
So the off-season stakes are high for Webster. If Ariza walks, Martell is locked into 35-plus minutes per game as the only established small forward on the roster. If Ariza returns, Martell will be fighting Otto on a nightly basis just to reach 20 minutes each game.
- 30 points (9-13 FG, 6-8 3FG) in a last-second, 102-101 win at New York on December 16).
- Photobombing, if you like that sort of thing (here, here, and here).
- The entire playoffs.
Webster still had dunks…
Pierce for President
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