Yes, he has heard this all before. Which is why, anytime you talk to Wolves guard Kevin Martin and you include “coach Rick Adelman’’ and “aggressive’’ in the same sentence you’re likely to get a rather sarcastic roll of the eyes.
It happened against Saturday, the day after the Wolves had used a strong start to beat up on the Detroit Pistons at Target Center, a strong start that had Martin’s name all over it. He scored six of the Wolves’ first eight points, nine of their first 21 and finished the first quarter with 11 points. It is no coincidence that the Wolves held an 18-point lead once the quarter ended.
Saturday, after Adelman once again had talked about the need for Martin to be aggressive, he was again asked what he thought about that.
Cue the eye roll.
“Since I’ve been back [from a thumb injury] we’re 3-1,” he said. “I’m averaging 21 a game, I’ve been pretty aggressive. I’ll take those results any day. The Knicks game I got in foul trouble early. Not much you can do. But whenever coach wants you to be aggressive that’s a good thing.’’
Adelman and Martin have been going back and forth on this for a while. Adelman said he knows Martin is being aggressive when he acts quickly instead of hesitating.
“What I mean by aggressive is not necessarily taking shots,” Adelman said, “but when he does take a shot he catches and goes. It’s all in rhythm. When he catches it and holds it, it’s not the same.”
And, Adelman said, the Wolves offense just doesn’t function as well when Martin is less decisive. It has been a year of adjustment for Martin. Adelman said Martin is used to getting to the free throw line a lot, but doing so has been more difficult this season.
“Now they’re not giving guys the same calls,” Adelman said. “He’s still trying to draw fouls sometimes rather than just taking shots.”
But the fact is when Martin is scoring well the Wolves usually win. Minnesota is 15-9 when Martin scores 20 or more points. But they are 6-1 in the past seven games he has done so, and 9-2 in the last 11.
Which is why Adelman so often has talked about the subject. And why, perhaps, Martin is growing a little weary of it.
After Friday’s game Martin said he knew what it took to be ready for games.
“Ten years in, I know what I need to do to come out here and get going.”
After Saturday’s practice he went a little further.
“I just go out and play the game,” he said. “On this team I feel I’m the fourth option, which is as it should be. I think people look at my being the second-leading scorer [on the team] and thinks I’m just a guy who goes out there and jacks up shots. I’m not that guy. I get in that mode sometimes, when I have to. But I’m not really that guy. I get in the flow of the game. I let Ricky [Ruio] play, [Kevin Love] play, [Nikola Pekovic] bruise down low. Some nights I’m in position to be more aggressive than other nights.’’
Adelman begs to differ.
“He underestimates himself,” Adelman said. “I think he’s a guy that, whenever he has it going, we’re so much harder to guard. I don’t agree with that at all. Kevin [Love] is the main guy, but then Pek and Kevin Martin are right there.’’