Where does Kevin Martin fit with the Houston Rockets?
By Kyle Adams
Kevin Martin went from being the most popular Rocket to least popular in just one season. Some of it had to do with rule changes, but most of it had to do with a lack of confidence. If Martin wants to keep his job in Houston or even find a significant role with another team, he needs to work hard in the offseason and change his attitude. You can’t succeed as a professional athlete without confidence.
Two seasons ago my favorite player on the Rockets roster was Martin. I thought he was a boarder line All-Star who would be perfect to pair with another star talent. He had the swagger of a superstar like Kobe or Carmelo. He got all the foul calls as well. But after being traded to the Hornets, and not being traded after the deal was nixed, then the rule changes where the referees were told to stop calling touch fouls or when a player tries to initiate contact, Martin’s game changed dramatically for the worse. He continued to play his old game of running into players trying to get the foul call, but wasn’t getting it. He was always frustrated with it and seemed to not understand why it was never called. His shooting suffered as well. Most scorers start to drive to the basket to get easy buckets if they are struggling from outside. Not Martin, he continued to jack up three’s and jumpers off of picks as if he were shooting the lights out.
Martin’s defense has always been average at best, but i will give him an A for effort. He does give effort on the defensive end, he just struggles with above averages guards at his position. With that being said, if he continues to be average defensively, he needs to be the Kevin Martin of old offensively to make it worth while.
Martin’s best year as a pro was in the 2010-2011 season, his first full one with the Rockets. In 80 games he averaged 23.4 points on 43% shooting, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1 steal in 32 minutes a game. He also shot 38% from three and 88% from the free throw line. Martin’s value as a player comes with his scoring ability. If he’s not scoring at a high level his value will drop dramatically. Last season in just 40 games Martin had his worst season as a pro since his sophomore season in 2005-2006. In just 40 games he averaged 17.1 points on 41% shooting, 2.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and less than 1 steal in 31 minutes a game. His three-point percentage dropped to 34%. For most players 17 points a game would come at great value, but teams know, especially the Rockets, Martin is having a bad season if he’s not scoring at least 20 points a game when he is the focal point of the offense.
With the Rockets drafting Jeremy Lamb with the 12th pick of the draft this year, and Lamb tearing it up in the NBA Summer League, Martin needs to get to work fast and be consistent. A lot of scouts have compared Lamb to Martin, so if Martin is struggling why would McHale play him over the younger Lamb? Martin needs to return to All-Star form quickly are he will lose his job.
It also doesn’t help that he fell out of favor with McHale. Most 4th quarters Martin was benched in favor of Courtney Lee. Martin was supposed to be the Rockets best player, but he was sitting the bench watching his backup play in the most crucial moments of each game. Martin and McHale need to get back on the same page
With all this being said Martin could be traded at any moment. He was said to be on the trade block, but then it was said the Rockets would keep him and let him play out his contract. But with Morey running the show nobody on the roster is safe outside of Lin.
After all is said and done, If Martin does start the season with the Rockets it will be his last. His contract is up after this season, and with the emerging Jeremy Lamb there is no way Martin will be back unless the Rockets include Lamb in a trade for a superstar big man. My guess Martin will be playing elsewhere in the 2013-2014 season. Crazier things have happened. If Martin can play up to his potential as well as the rest of the team i think they can definitely make the playoffs. But that remains to be seen.