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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 at 10:55 am  |  2 responses

The Last Jump

After a solid season in DC, Martell Webster has finally found his NBA footing.

by Abe Schwadron / @abe_squad

The last time Martell Webster’s name was in SLAM as more than a footnote, the Trail Blazers had just made him the No. 6 pick in the ’05 NBA Draft, the last year high schoolers could make the jump straight to the L. Then a teenage prep star from Seattle, WA, Webster would get to stay in the Pacific Northwest.

But after being miscast and suffering a slew of injuries in Portland and later Minnesota, the 6-7 wing signed a one-year deal in Washington last summer, where he carved out a role as one of the NBA’s best long-range shooters and posted career-highs in nearly every statistical category, including minutes (28.9 per game), points (11.4) and three-point shooting (42 percent).Martell Webster

Webster says he prefers not to critique his own game bit by bit, but acknowledges that he had a hardwood revival in DC. How?

“Just experience,” he says. “You begin to prioritize. Your individual game and certain things aren’t important anymore, like trying to score all the points, prove to everybody I can dribble and whatnot. That’s not a big factor; it’s just playing the game and getting wins.”

And while the Wizards may only have won 29 games, Webster was part of a combination that—when finally at full strength, health-wise—had Washington looking the part of a Playoff contender post-All-Star break.

Says Webster, reflecting during the final week of the season: “I think that we as a unit have completely turned this organization, this franchise, a 180. We really have something to focus on for next year. My only focus is on getting better and helping contribute to this team in a more positive way.”

In the midst of that turnaround, on March 16, he dropped a career-best 34 points in a win over the Suns, including seven treys.

Having finally tapped into his considerable potential by finding a niche as a floor-spreading swingman, Webster wishes he could have given his younger self some advice.

“Let the game come to you. Don’t try to force anything, play off your teammates. That’s the most important thing,” says the 26-year-old, having wrapped up his eighth season. “A lot of guys come into the League thinking that it’s most important to have the ball in their hands. But you can be very effective—as effective as having the ball in your hands—without it in your hands, you just have to know how to move without it.”

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  • LakeShow

    Seattle, stand up!
    Just cause ya’ll get screwed outta NBA teams doesn’t mean you can’t churn out NBA talent with the best.

  • http://twitter.com/nichobert nich obert

    He’s really impressive to me.
    Understands his role as a spot up guy perfectly, but has more ability to do other things on offense than most guys who get parked in a corner. Not the longest or most cerebral defender, but his effort on that end is laudable.

    Perhaps most importantly for Martell’s future: he seemed like all of his teammates favorite teammate. Guys LOVE him here. Players, coaches, fans- we all want to see him unveiling the Wizard again next year.

    In a vacuum, the whole MLE might seem ludicrously steep for a guy like Martell. Especially on a team devoid of someone to back up either (or both) guard spot, or a reliable 3rd big man who doesn’t immediately unravel the progress made while Nene and Okafor are on the floor. Seraphin, Vesely, Booker and Singleton aren’t as bad as they were last year, but the guys entering year 4 aren’t going to have much longer to establish a niche and claim a spot in the rotation. Wall, Beal and Nene all missed 20+ games last year, so depth is really important. Especially when you realize without Wałl they were a threat to be the worst team ever, but with him they went 25-19 before benching everyone. That’s like 4 seed territory.

    Using the whole MLE on Webster is a huge gamble. But a team flush with cash like Cleveland has to be salivating over him as a stopgap solution until they find out of they can poach LeBron. If Webster signs for the much lesser biannual exception in order to allow DC to target a midlevel big man to supplant Seraphin, it would be worth a parade in this good news strapped basketball town!

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