As you're aware, the Spurs have recently made a couple of tweaks on the margins of their roster, adding a pair of former Timberwolves first in Andre Miller and more recently Kevin Martin, at the expense of Ray McCallum and Rasual Butler.
To put it simply, I am not a fan of the signing. While Paul Garcia of ProjectSpurs wrote up an excellent analysis of Martin's three-point shooting and all the different manner of ways he can spring open to get his shot off, I think there are more potential negatives than positives here and that the best outcome Spurs fans can hope for is for Martin to be chained to the bench when the real games begin.
First, let's be real about who Martin is as a player. His two strengths are shooting threes and being able to get to the line. But that is literally it. His rebounding is negligible for a 6'7 guy, he's a non-playmaker with a career 1:1 assist:turnover ratio, and his defense has always been double-plus ungood.
Second, he was having the worst season of his career at Minnesota, shooting 37.7 percent from the field (but a decent 36.9 from deep. For a supposed "offensive specialist" it's a bit ironic that he had the worst offensive rating among any rotation player on the Timberwolves, no? Coincidentally enough, Andre Miller was the best.
Finally, Martin has all of 17 games of playoff experience to his name in his 11-year career, and hasn't played well in those. He was supposed to help replace James Harden for Oklahoma City and didn't live up to those expectations. They basically gave him away after one year to save money.
We're basically talking about 8-10 minutes at most. That's how much Kawhi Leonard will sit during playoff games. Maybe even less. By now we kind of have a pretty good idea what the Spurs offense is. The guys who handle the ball are Tony Parker, Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills. The team likes to isolate/post-up Leonard, Aldridge and Boris Diaw, run pick-and-pops with Aldridge and David West and assorted curls, loops and other assorted motion offense chicanery to their guards.
Whoever the backup small forward is, that guy will, in all likelihood, not asked nor trusted to touch the ball a whole lot in half-court offense, not with Ginobili and Mills running the show and looking for the bigs and each other. My rough estimation is that Anderson/Simmons/Martin will have occasion to shoot it every eight possessions or so. The Spurs average 96.5 possessions in a 48-minute game, with that number likely to drop even further in the crucible of the playoffs.
But for the sake or argument, let's stick with that 96.5 number and give the tenth-man eight minutes of playing time. That works out to roughly 16.1 possessions. That's two field goal attempts for Martin. Is his marginal improvement from the three-point line over the youngsters (and even that's arguable) worth all the cons in his game over those 16 possessions?
Simmons and Anderson offer you rebounding. They offer you passing. They offer you hustle. They can make a play on defense through sheer length and athleticism and get the offense running in transition, where any team is at its most efficient. The worst offense with a 3-on-2 fast break is more efficient than the Warriors in half court. Plus the kids can steal extra possessions on the offensive glass as well.
I just don't see Martin as much of an asset. Heck, Pop may just elect to use Miller (especially against a guy like Shaun Livingston) and slide Mills over to the two and Ginobili to the three. Or he may want Leonard to be in there with the second unit. Do you really want to see Parker and Martin in the same defensive backcourt?
I understand the thinking. Maybe the Spurs will be down 15 points in some game and they'll throw Martin in out of desperation and he'll magically get hot and get them back into it, a la Steve Kerr against the Mavericks in Game 6 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals. Except that Martin's never been that kind of combustible quick-burst scorer, having started for the majority of his career.
Wouldn't they have been better off signing Gary Neal? He's two years younger, he knows the system, he's a better passer and is more of an "instant-offense" kind of player.
Oh, and he's been having a much better season.
As Shakespeare once wrote, "The play's the thing." We'll just have to see if Martin's is worthy of rotation minutes.
Now that I've given all my reasons why I don't like the Martin signing, let's have some fun with it by using the work of history's greatest playwright. Okay, here goes....
The Spurs had to make a number of tough decisions and roster sacrifices to position themselves to have the cap room to woo their beloved free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, and indeed signing him in July was A Midsummer Night's Dream. However, Love's Labours Lost them Tiago Splitter, Cory Joseph and perhaps most significantly, Marco Belinelli. Ever since the Italian swing-man signed with the Kings, The Merchant of Venice taking the highest offer as you'd expect, a chief concern among Spurs fans and bloggers alike was how they would be able to sufficiently replace his three-point shooting.
The Winter's Tale of the first half of the season proved those fears well founded, as the Spurs offense had far too many spells of not flowing as well As You Like It. Youngsters Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons brought energy and enthusiasm, but The Two Noble Kinsmen were often too tentative and reluctant to take open shots and Pop's patience was often tested with The Comedy of Errors their inexperience wrought.
The acquisition of a proven shooter like Martin seems on the surface a perfect marriage of team and player, an All's Well That Ends Well move to fill perhaps the one hole on the roster. Fans indeed gave Martin a rousing ovation when he made his Spurs debut, the greatest love story since Romeo and Juliet. I, on the other hand, think it will prove to be Much Ado About Nothing, which I know won't surprise any of you and will only provoke emails to JRW begging for The Taming of the Shrew.
I just don't think Martin is built for The Tempest of big playoff games. Pop is fond of saying "people are who they are" and not even the greatest leaders in history like George Washington or Julius Caesar could inspire Martin to rotate properly on defense, much less Gregg Popovich. We'll see soon enough, beginning on the 12th Night of March against the Thunderthat Martin is Measure For Measure, a worse option than Anderson or Simmons.
Let's have some fun in the comments. Whether you agree or disagree with my opinion, argue by using the titles of your favorite author's books, your favorite musician's songs or your favorite actor's movies. Like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt or Peter North, somebody whose work we're all familiar with.