Webster's Instant Impact

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Heading into the offseason, the Wolves front office staff coveted a multi-dimensional athlete on the wing, preferably in his mid 20’s. Oh, by the way, the team additionally desired an experienced player to accelerate the growth process on a revamped roster.

Too much to ask?

On draft night, the Wolves effectively corralled this guard/small forward out of the Northwest by shipping the draft rights to Luke Babbitt and Ryan Gomes to Portland. The move instantly generated buzz for a Minnesota squad in need of a quality perimeter shooter and defender along with all the aforementioned qualities.

After an eye-opening start to the preseason, Martell Webster’s much anticipated debut was put on hold due to a herniated disc in his back that required a surgical procedure. Minnesota fans were left to linger as the team marched through the month of November and half way into December before it could fully activate its arsenal of versatile swingmen.

A trip to the Bay Area for the Wolves provided an opportunity for Webster to finally hit the hardwood once again. No. 5 entered the game with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter but reminded fans of his true all-around skill set throughout the second period. At the 11:42 mark, Webster snatched a board and briskly moved up the floor where he dished to Brewer for a quick bucket in transition. A couple possessions later, he then received a pass from Jonny Flynn, curled towards the top of the key, and drove inside the paint and connected on a rainbow floater. Within the same quarter, Webster dropped a midrange bucket off a Kevin Love screen in addition to running the floor for an easy two-handed flush on the fastbreak.

In one quarter, Webster provided a small snapshot of all the tools he possesses and why he was such an attractive commodity for this Minnesota franchise. He shined in the Golden State contest with 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the floor, 2-for-2 behind the arc, and five boards in 26 minutes off the bench. Not bad for a guy that missed the first 24 games of the season.

Webster's return performance was somewhat surprising considering the absence of rust in his stride, shooting stroke, and overall athleticism. A conversation with the former No. 6 overall pick revealed an interesting aspect to his vigilant approach to health.

"The key thing to that is, practices like this you don't do much running and the running you do, you want to make sure is hard. Afterwards, you get some extra conditioning in because really what players should do is train themselves for five quarters and if you do that, then once it comes around to the fourth quarter you are going to be good," Webster explained.

Listening to the 24-year old speak, he exudes the confidence and experience of a longtime NBA veteran. Obviously, the five years in Portland helped Webster establish a strict workout regimen, which certainly paid big dividends in his attempt to make an impact for Minnesota this year.

"It's just one of those things, where your body is your temple and you won't have it for long," Webster articulated. "You lose it once you get to a certain age, so keeping yourself in shape for as long as you can is only beneficial."

From day one of training camp in Mankato, Webster participated in an intense practice and then spent a considerable amount of time stretching in the workout facility. The gameday routine is similar, where he bumps the rap music inside the locker room prior to the upcoming game while focusing on a series of stretches that would make a Yoga instructor cringe. All of this work to prepare for at least a two-hour battle against the top athletes in the world.

Through seven games, Webster is a stabilizing force in the Wolves second unit. He is averaging a career-high 14.4 points per game, not to mention a solid 40.7 percent from the 3-point line.

He has also left a lasting impression on his teammates and coaching staff, "The way he has played and the way he played in the preseason and his experience, those are all things that would indicate that he would deserve a lot of time out there on the floor," head coach Kurt Rambis stated.

All signs point to a perfect pickup for the Wolves front office this summer by acquiring the ultra-talented guard/forward. They must have looked up all those desired qualities in the dictionary and found Webster. Kind of ironic, don't you think?
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