When you look at his base statistics, Kevin Martin shot 36.9% from 3-point range in 39 games with the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. Now that Martin has signed with San Antonio Spurs and he has yet to play a game with his new team, Martin’s versatility and shot options from 3-point range indicate that he is predicted to not only get some of his preferred shots from distance with San Antonio, but he could also add another weapon to their long-range shooting.
While numbers do tell one story, observations also tell another from what the eye test is seeing out on the floor. When focusing in on Martin’s 3-point shooting ability, he’s not just tied to a generic label like ‘spot-up’ shooter, but instead, he has many tools his bag of how and from where he can shoot 3-pointers from when on the floor. The visual below shows six ways Martin is capable of shooting 3-pointers: 1) Spot-Ups, 2) Pull Up Jumpers In Transition (PUJITs), 3) Curls off one or two screens to the middle of the floor, 4) Curls off elbow screens, 5) Shots off dribble hand-offs, 6) Jab step 3-pointers.
Now we’ll go through some of those shots in detail with video clips and discuss the likelihood of Martin getting some of these types of shots in a Spurs uniform.
The video clip below displays Martin making a spot-up 3-pointer off drive-and-kick action from Zach LaVine attacking the defense. Notice that Martin has the basketball IQ to not just stay in the corner, but instead, he fills LaVine’s driving lane on the perimeter so he’s in perfect position should LaVine have to kick the ball back out.
This is a shot Martin is likely to get most often in the Spurs’ offense in a variety of ways: drive-and-kick action, good to great passing around the arc, or even out of a post-up situation from a player like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, or Boris Diaw. With the Spurs’ ball movement and their mentality of not letting the ball ‘stick’ too long, Martin will have to be ready for the shot he’s likely to get most often from beyond the arc – the spot-up.
The first video clip below shows Martin on the break with his teammates as he walks into a step-in transition 3-pointer.
The next video clip below shows Martin’s ability to also spread the floor out on the break, as he heads to the corner to open up space and he is in the perfect place to catch-and-shoot the corner 3-pointer.
Martin taking this type of shot as a Spur depends more-so on how much of a green light the Spurs’ coaching staff will give him to shoot it. On the Spurs’ roster, Danny Green, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili are typically the three Spurs who have the green light to take a PUJIT out on the break. On occasion, Leonard will attempt a PUJIT every now and then as well.
Curl to the middle off 1 or 2 screens
In the clip below, Martin’s teammate sets a screen from about 15-feet to get him open in the middle of the arc for the 3-pointer. Minnesota also had sets where two players would set screens for Martin so he could catch and shoot the ball from the middle off screen action.
The Spurs do have some HORNS sets where they can get some of their 3-point shooters looks from the middle of the arc either through motion action or even specifically with the ‘Elevator’ screen they run for Mills or Green. For Martin, with him being a new player for just the last 18 games of the season, it’ll be interesting to see if the team runs any sets for him running off screen action.
Curl off elbow screens
Another action the Wolves often ran for Martin was him running from the baseline off a curl elbow screen from a big man as shown in the video below.
The Spurs have some sets in their system as well where the big men set screens near the elbow and usually one of Leonard, Ginobili, Mills or Green are the recipients of the screen and the ball to shoot the shot from the wing-3 area. Like the shot from the middle of the floor described previously, Martin getting this type of shot will depend mostly on how much exposure and playing time the coaching staff gives him to get acclimated with those kinds of sets.
Shots Off Dribble Hand-Offs
The video clip below displays Martin catching a dribble hand-off from a big man and Martin being comfortable taking the three a few feet behind the line and screen.
Outside of Mills and Leonard, this isn’t a shot the Spurs’ 3-point shooters typically take, so unless this was a shot approved by the coaches, this isn’t a shot Martin likely will be taking unless the clock is dying down or the defense completely collapses and leaves him wide open.
The Wolves ran a set often where Martin would start along the baseline and run to one of the corners. Upon catching the ball, Martin would jab step and shoot a 3-pointer with the defense playing fairly close to him, as shown in the video below.
With the Spurs, only Ginobili and Leonard have the leeway to take a jab-step 3-pointer, and when they do, it’s on often rare occasions, since it’s an unassisted and difficult shot for most. If the shot is only allowed by two current Spurs, it would be surprising if Martin had the green light to take this type of shot.
While all the clips above did show Martin making 3-pointers in each clip, it can’t be forgotten that he’s also missed 65 of 103 three pointers this season. One area to monitor with Martin is his shot selection in taking contested and uncontested 3-pointers. After watching a majority of his 3-point looks with the Wolves this season, because he was one of Minnesota’s only threats from beyond the arc, he often either forced or had to take some contested or rushed looks that wouldn’t fit the Spurs’ identity of a good shot.
However, now that Martin is heading to a team with the third best offense (108.9 Points Per 100 Possessions) in the NBA and second best 3-point shooting percentage (38.5%), he should be able to find a fit and get favorable shots when on the floor as a Spur. One positive note from the data showed that of his 38 made 3-pointers this season, 36 of those threes were assisted for Martin, so he wasn’t solely relying on creating his own shot.
This season with the Wolves, Martin shot 35.6% from above the arc (31 of 87) and 43.8% (7 of 16) from the corners, per NBA.com/stats. For his 11 year career Martin is a career 38.5% shooter from 3-point range. With 18 games left before the playoffs, it’ll be interesting to see how the Spurs fit Martin into their lineups – could he potentially take those wing minutes left by Marco Belinelli that are currently being filled by Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons, or will he be a situational piece Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich might call on depending on the in-game situation? These final two months before the playoffs may begin to answer those questions regarding Martin’s role in San Antonio.