Martell

As we enter training camp, I find myself wondering more and more about young Mr. Webster and his role on our team.  The kid says all the right things, he's apparently smart, and he's a really hard worker.  Between those things and his natural charisma, he's become something of a standard-bearer for this team.  I would be overjoyed if both his opportunities and his performance this year justified those impressions, but part of me also worries.

One obvious concern is his age.  The timeline on most fresh-out-of-high-school guys is three years, not two, especially if they didn't play a full first season, which--despite the late-season flurry--Martell didn't.  In fact it's easy to forget that at one point last year the team considered him NBDL-worthy.  I'm not questioning his talent or drive.  I'm just saying that there's a long distance between that and team leader...maybe more than can be covered in a handful of months.  Also right now he's a man without a position.  Is he a 2 or a 3?  At shooting guard he's sandwiched between a veteran and a rookie sensation, both of whom probably have more well-rounded games than he at this point.  He loses size advantage at small forward, has to learn a new (though not shockingly so) role, and is stuck behind one of the top two players on the squad.  That's a fair amount of murkiness surrounding a potential "star" player, which makes me wonder if the epithet is a tad premature yet.

I love Martell.  I love his game, I love his attitude...I think he very easily could be my favorite player on the whole team.  But if I had to guess I'd say that despite the high hopes, this year will hold for him a fair amount of soul-searching, some bench time, and perhaps a full-blown identity crisis or two.  Obviously that's not what he's expecting, and it could prove quite a test.  If he responds to those like he did to the NBDL thing he'll likely earn the spot and role he covets by next season. If he doesn't respond well there's a chance he could end up in the "Outlaw Zone", which would be a shame.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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