Feb. 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Martell Webster (5) fouls Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) in the second half of the game at the Staples Center. Timberwolves won 109-97. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
There's something mildly anticlimactic about getting what you want, especially when it isn't quite what you had in mind. In theory, Martell Webster should add more three point shooting to a roster in need of it. In practice, he'll be a reserve. Come game-time he'll rack up a respectable number of DNP-CDs. He's injury insurance, important depth if an unexpected trade involving one of the Wizards' many small forwards comes to fruition. In reality, he's an oft-injured 14th/15th man whose stroke suffered during the lockout-shortened season. That's what I was figuring...but I have to wonder what a $1.6 million contract means to the depth chart.
It's not like Webster has been an end-of-the-bench player in his career. He had a micro-discectomy early in the 2010/11 season, which isn't quite as bad as it first sounds. And of course, Webster shot 41.7% from beyond the arc that season, though he only started one game (playing in 46 total) on that 17-65 Timberwolves squad. When healthy, he's the kind of three-and-D player fans have been hoping to see John Wall play with. With his injury history, plenty will wonder if the Wizards have outsmarted themselves and signed Josh Howard Redux.
Let's toss a few variables out there to give the depth chart question some shape:
- Webster is healthy throughout training camp and is ready to go when the season starts
- Webster shows about what you'd expect from a guy who got around 24 mpg in the T-Wolves SF rotation
- Cartier Martin flashes nothing new
Before the signing, attendant dollar amount and taking all other off-season activity into account, I envisioned Cartier Martin and Trevor Booker filling the third string and situational roles at SG/SF/PF. Hopefully, enough for each player to sneak 10-15 minutes in the rotation every couple games while pushing Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely at every opportunity.
There are fewer minutes to go around for a few of our favorite backups, but the pressure on Chris Singleton to make a sophomore leap has ratcheted up. Summer League showcased his efforts to diversify his game and make him more a complete player. He's going to need it. If the Wiz push for the playoffs like so many believe they are capable of, Singleton could easily find himself as the only Wizards rookie playing behind two veterans.
While that sets up a situation the Ten Point Plan may not smile upon, I find it consistent with the pressure the front-office and coaching staff has placed on CSing from the beginning. He was tossed out against the top perimeter threats in his rookie year and (largely due to roster construction) left there the entire season. Taking steps this off-season to become a two-way player is hugely important to seeing the floor in the coming year and the veteran depth at SF is another challenge Chris Singleton will have to face on the road to becoming an elite defender in the NBA.