Webster ready for new start
MINNEAPOLIS -- The way Martell Webster sees it, he just got drafted for the second time.
The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired the former lottery pick from Portland in a trade for the 16th overall pick on draft night last week. Many players would sulk after getting traded from a playoff contender to the second-worst team in the league, but Webster welcomes the change.
"It's a crazy feeling. It's kind of surreal," Webster said during his introductory news conference Monday. "New place. New setting. New culture. I'm excited."
Webster was one of the highest-rated high school players in the country during his senior year at Seattle Prep in 2005 and was the first prep player drafted that year when the rebuilding Blazers took him sixth overall, ahead of Andrew Bynum.
The following year, however, the Blazers landed star Brandon Roy, who cut into Webster's playing time and relegated him more to a role player and occasional starter than the established scorer the team envisioned developing when they drafted him. In five years with the Blazers, Webster never averaged more than 28 minutes per game.
"Not a fresh start, just a chance, to tell you the truth," Webster said about his new team. "Not to say I didn't have one in Portland, but now I get more of one. The opportunity is a little bit bigger. For me, personally, something bigger means a lot more."
The Timberwolves are banking on him being ready for the role.
Webster will compete with Corey Brewer for the starting shooting guard spot, with president David Kahn and coach Kurt Rambis betting that the 23-year-old will show that he can do more than be a spot-up three-point shooter and above-average defender.
"The statistics are that when he plays a significant amount of time, 30-plus minutes, his shot-making goes up, his scoring goes up," Kahn said. "He probably relaxes a little bit when he's playing steady minutes. And he's 23, which is hard to believe since he's been in the league for such a long time."
In his career, Webster is averaging 8.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 41 percent shooting, 37 percent from three-point range. He played at least 30 minutes in 32 games last season, and his numbers in those games were 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 48 percent shooting and 44 percent from three-point range.
With three first-round picks in the draft, the Timberwolves were hesitant to add three more rookies to a roster that already would feel right at home at a Justin Bieber concert. So they shipped their 16th overall pick and veteran Ryan Gomes to the Blazers for Webster, who has five years of experience under his belt, but is still young enough for the Wolves to believe best basketball is ahead of him.
"I've been following him since he was a rookie," said Rambis, who was an assistant with the Lakers during Webster's first four seasons. "I like his size, I like his length, his height. He can just flat-out shoot the basketball effortlessly from four or five feet behind the three-point line. But I see him doing a lot more than just being a spot-up shooter."
It's going to be quite a summer for Webster, who is getting married in August and will also beginning a transformation on the court from a role player learning the system for five years in Portland to a veteran who will be leaned on heavily in Minnesota.
"I haven't even begun to show (my potential)," Webster said. "How open is my mind to new things? I can tell you that it really is. I'm excited to see what this offense is going to be like. To see where I can fit in and really just sprawl out and show what I feel like I'm capable of doing."