Martell Webster welcomes trade to lowly Minnesota Timberwolves

Published 11:59 pm Monday, June 28, 2010

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.”

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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 3-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 3-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 3-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.

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.”