Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Just days before the season started the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled off a trade that sent James Harden to Houston and Kevin Martin to the Thunder. Both guys essentially replaced each other in their respective lineups.
James Harden seems to be the better player but the Thunder own the better record at 11-4. The Rockets just got back to .500 with a win over the Toronto Raptors last night. They now stand at 7-7.
This is going to be an epic game to watch as Harden makes his return to Oklahoma City. I’m not sure if he will be cheered or booed by the Thunder crowd, but I do know Harden and Martin will look to stick it to their former teams.
So far this season Harden has been the MVP for the Rockets. He looks to be well on his way to his first All-Star game and the best season of his career. Through 14 games he is averaging 25 points, 5.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 39 minutes a game. He’s shooting 44% from the field, 33% from downtown and 83% from the line on 9 attempts a game. The only bad number in his stat line is the 4 turnovers a game, but I’m sure that will decline the more he gets comfortable with his new teammates.
If you look at K-Mart’s numbers you might think it’s one of his worst seasons of his career. But if you compare them to Harden’s number just a year ago there is actually not much of a drop off. Martin is basically playing the same role as Harden did for the Thunder. He’s the sixth man and comes in to bring scoring off the bench. So far in 15 games he is averaging 15.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1 steal in 30 minutes a game. He’s having one of his best shooting seasons in his career. He’s shooting 45% from the field, an amazing 49% from three and 94% from the stripe.
If you compare Martin’s numbers to Harden’s Sixth Man of the Year season last year you might be surprised. In 64 games last season with the Thunder, Harden averaged 16.8 points, 4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1 steal in 31 minutes a game. Harden shot 49% from the field, 39% from three and 84% from the line.
Looking at the numbers they both essentially replaced each other very well. They both seem to be doing just as good if not better in their switched roles. The only difference is James Harden is just 23 years old and Kevin Martin will be 30 in a few months. Harden is definitely on his way to being by far the better player, but right now it’s a lot closer than you might think. Another difference is Martin is playing on a potential championship team. Harden is playing on a team filled with question marks.
Tonight is going to be a very interesting game to watch. I expect both players to have phenomenal games.