I will be looking at every player individually and breaking down their season throughout the offseason. I have already taken a look at Otto Porter‘s rookie season. Today, we break down Martell Webster‘s year.
Contract years are a real thing. Whether you want to believe it or not, players want to get paid. And players know if they produce the year right before they’re up for a new contract there is a good chance a team is going to spend some money on them, regardless of what happened in years past.
The Washington Wizards may have fallen into this trap (many teams do) with Martell Webster, who had an extremely solid 2012-13 campaign. In his contract year, he averaged 11.4 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He posted his best defensive rating of his career at an efficiency of 106. The Wizards were 3.9 points better per 100 possessions with him on the court. He had a really solid year for the Wizards, who were trying to find their identity. He would certainly be worth the mid-level exception he was offered by the Wizards heading into last offseason at four years and $22 million if he was going to play like that for the next four years.
Well, now we fast forward to this offseason and that contract is tough to explain. Webster by no means had a bad year. He averaged 9.7 points per game on 39.2 percent shooting from deep. He had a nice three-game stretch early in the season when he averaged 19 points per game on 45 percent from 3 against the Cavs, Raptors, and Knicks. He also had a monster game in Masidon Square Garden in which he erupted for 30 points on 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. He often provided a nice spark off the bench with his ability shoot the basketball.
But when the Wizards needed him most, he was not there. In the last 19 games of this season (11 of them being playoff games), Webster only scored in double figures one time. That’s a problem if you’re supposed to be a pivotal bench player on a team for years to come. In the playoffs, the Wizards were 10.6 points worse per 100 possessions with Webster on the floor. For the season, they were 2.8 points worse per 100 possessions with him on the court.
It was not just his scoring and shooting that was down this year, he was also not a very good defender. He had the lowest amount of defensive win shares (1.7) of any player who played more than 1,500 minutes on the season for the Wizards. The Wizards were more than five points better defensively per 100 possessions with him on the bench in both the regular season and playoffs. A big part of defense is finishing off the possession and grabbing rebounds and he finished with the lowest total rebounding rate of his career. That screams a lack of effort to me. You hate to question a player’s effort, but Webster regressed in just about every category this season. You see that often after contract years.
Finally, Webster’s disappointing year has put the Wizards in a tough situation. Because he regressed, the Wizards are most likely going to have to re-sign Trevor Ariza, because Webster is nowhere near a starting small forward in this league if he plays like he did this year. With having to sign Ariza and still having Webster on the books, this halts the progression of last year’s third overall pick, Otto Porter, who saw basically no time this season because he was buried behind Ariza and Webster. With Webster not taking that next step and not being able to move into the starting lineup Porter may be buried again next year. If the Wizards have any sort of confidence in Porter, they might keep the phone open about Webster and listen to trade offers, but I think most teams realize, this ain’t no contract year.
Full disclosure: I have already started the exact same piece for Trevor Ariza next year.