No player captures the optimism of the Houston Rockets fanbase better than Kenyon Martin Jr. For most of the season, there were cries for the second-year wing/forward to enter the starting lineup and become an undeniable part of the franchise’s future core. Martin would feature in 79 games but was only called upon to start two games. Clearly, there was a disconnect between what the fanbase and the coaching staff were seeing.
Kenyon Martin Jr’s Battle Between Highlights and the Little Things
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but what fans and coaches value differ dramatically. Fundamentally, fans watch basketball for entertainment, while coaches watch basketball to find avenues to win. If pure entertainment led to victories, then Tim Duncan and Bill Russell wouldn’t be two of the greatest winners of all time, and Gerald Green and J.R. Smith would be Hall of Famers.
This is the predicament that Kenyon Martin Jr found himself in this past season. He is a highlight waiting to happen, but the rest of his game, the little things, lag behind. For instance, Martin led the team in percentage of field goal attempts that were dunks at 25.6%. From a pure entertainment standpoint that’s fantastic. However, when Martin was on the court, the Rockets saw a 2.4% decline in defensive rebounding rate. A decline this small is hardly noticeable to the average fan, but it adds up and was likely a result of lapses that the coaching staff saw all too often.
This isn’t to say that Martin fails at doing the little things entirely. He always brought energy, but he remains a work in progress. Fortunately, it’s much easier to coach the little things into a player than it is to teach someone how to jump higher. This is Kenyon Martin Jr’s season in review.