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Thunder have some adjustments to make with Kevin Martin

Oct 30, 2012, 8:01 AM EDT

Kevin Martin, De Andre Liggins AP

For years, Kevin Martin was a player I hoped would land on a bigger stage. He was maybe the most efficient scorer in the NBA, a guy who could shoot the three, had a deceptively good handle and knew how to get to the line. He scored more than 20 points a game for five straight seasons but outside fantasy players most casual fans didn’t seem to know or realize how good he was.

He’s on a bigger stage now — he is the main piece coming back to Oklahoma City in the James Harden trade. (We can talk about Jeremy Lamb, but he is long term not this season.)

But after a season where his game and numbers regressed, how will Martin do on that stage? The other challenge will be how he fits in OKC, where he will get the minutes of a very different style of player in James Harden.

Martin brings skills that will help the Thunder. That starts with his ability to just plain shoot the rock. He’s a career 37.7 percent shooter from three with a quick release. You have to respect him out there but when defenders close he has the handles to go around him and hit a long two (he shot 44 percent from 16 feet out to the arc last season). Martin has a good pump fake and a better crossover than people expect and those create space — and he doesn’t need much to get a shot off.

It’s easy to see Martin being a threat playing on the wing and keeping defenses honest when Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are on the floor.

But what Harden did well was keep the second unit scoring while Westbrook and Durant rested, and that is where the adjustments will have to come in for OKC.

Martin is simply not near the playmaker Harden is. Now some of the shot creation duties will fall to point guard Eric Maynor. Martin though will get looks, both in transition and some in isolation. He has to get back to the things he did before last year’s regression (when his shooting percentage slumped to 41.3 percent).

That starts with getting to the line. Martin knew how to draw fouls — he averaged more than 10 free throws a game in 2009. But last year his free throws attempted per game dropped almost by half what it was the year before, down to 4.5. The NBA stopped calling fouls on the “rip move” (a Martin specialty) but it was more than that, it was how he was used in the offense and how he attacked out of it. He has to find that comfort zone again.

Martin also works well off the ball and the Thunder should consider running some Ray Allen-like screens.

But whatever they do, it will be different. The Thunder have adjustments to make that could take some time for the players to get used to.

But at least Martin is on a big stage now and we get to see what he does with that.

  1. dls612 - Oct 30, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    I’m sure the thunder will make the proper adjustments ,I think at his advantage he’s playing for a good coach that is patient and allows u to play freely and he’s playing with Durrant and Westbrook that should make it a lot easier. Also the thunder has some of the greatest fans and I’m sure they will accept him with open arms. Base on that I think he’ll fit in nicely, pressure shouldn’t be an issue unless he lets it.

  2. lezbehonestppl - Oct 30, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    The Magic had Dwight Howard, and look what they got!! The messed up trying to milk out the last few drops of Dwight’s inevitable departure. Should have traded him the moment he didn’t commit to the max contract. As a Lakers fan, I give all the props in the world to the Thunder organization. Offered the Man a more than humbling contract, for a very capable starter, but in reality a bench player. He rejected it, and they moved on to the highest bidder. Got some really nice draft picks, a good veteran SG that go off on any night, and a raw rookie SG that has a very tall ceiling. Damn.. you would think I was a Thunder fan.. Anyways, back to my third cup of joe…

  3. teehov843 - Oct 30, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    It was a good pick up by the Thunder but my only gripe with him is that he is too injury prone

  4. rickeye9 - Oct 30, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    people keep saying he’s efficient , I’m not seeing it at all by looking at his stats, in the past 5 seasons, he’s yet to shoot over 46% and 42 from threes, usually way under those numbers. he did get to the line a lot to help make up for those numbers, but he still shot around 43% overall and like 36% on threes. just saying not really efficient, more of a volume scorer. harden is what you would call efficient . It’s not like I’m only looking at numbers, I’m from the Bay Area and have been watching him since he was a rookie. heck my best friends aunt dated him back in his early days. wish him luck but I don’t get why people call him efficient and it’s not only this article

  5. money2long - Oct 30, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    i think one can say the thunder got back a player in their prime in martin..and for a championship contending team hoping to win now, that can’t hurt. yes, they lose some chemistry, but maybe they can build some new chemistry with martin. very rarely does a big trade go down where your starting unit remains the same.

  6. peopleschanel - Oct 30, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    One thing i would say is that he has to live up to the hype that harden displayed for the thunder than well will see can he made the big shots when he has too.

  7. misterdreamer119 - Oct 30, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Easy fix, bring westbrook off the bench. He eats up Dirants shots.

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