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The NBA’s 30 best go-to players (#24: Kevin Martin)

By 09.23.09
Kevin Martin (photo. Kelly Turso)

Kevin Martin (photo. Kelly Turso)


Every NBA team has a go-to guy, and there’s really only room for one. And it’s not always about taking a last-second shot. It’s the guy who regularly gets the ball when things are getting tense in the fourth; the guy expected to calm things down when teammates are getting sloppy; the guy called upon to snuff out an opponent’s rally, or spark a rally of his own; the guy who’s not just supposed to make shots, but make the right decisions.

Bottom line: Who do you want the offense to run through when everything is on the line? From #30 to #1, these are the League’s best go-to guys…

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#24: KEVIN MARTIN, Sacramento Kings

How can K-Mart rank anywhere but 30th when his team is the worst in the NBA and he can barely stay on the court long enough to wear out his sneakers?

I know it’s just about overdone by now, but it has a lot to do with Martin’s efficiency. More specifically, he’s a solid go-to guy because he wastes very few possessions. And on those possessions, he doesn’t waste motion or time; it’s one or two moves, then forward to the basket or up for a jumper.

But now you’re looking at Martin’s 42% FG clip from last season and thinking this whole “efficiency” thing is bunk, right? Consider this, though: Martin played in 51 games, and by my count, he missed 10 or more field goals 23 times, or 45% of his appearances. By comparison, Brandon Roy — a scoring guard nobody would accuse of being reckless with the ball — missed 10 or more shots in 43% of his games (34 of 78). As for Kobe Bryant, he threw up 10-plus bricks in SIXTY-FIVE percent of his games (52 of 82).

Wait, there’s more. Martin attempted 20 or more field goals in 10 of his 51 games, or 19% of the time. B-Roy threw up 20-plus shots in 21% of his games (17 of 78), and Kobe jacked 20-plus shots a whopping 57% of the time (47 of 82). And Kobe’s supposed to be the one with a stacked team at his disposal.

What I’m gathering from those numbers is that even when Martin is having an off night, he recognizes it early and does what a scorer should do when his jumper is off — he gets himself to the line to create easy points for himself. K-Mart was second in the NBA with 10.3 free-throw attempts per game (behind Dwight Howard), and hit 86.5% from the stripe.

And when the jumper is on, few players can get buckets like Martin. When healthy, he’s one of the 10 best pure scorers in the League (24.6 ppg, 41% 3PA). He can thrive in a helter-skelter atmosphere, like when he dropped 50 on the Warriors in April, or in a more controlled setting against a good defensive team, like when he averaged 34.5 points in two games against Cleveland last year.

However, K-Mart had definite issues with durability. The last two seasons he’s played 61 and 51 games, respectively. Whether it’s the skinny frame or just bad luck, he’s prone to injury.

And he’s a single-minded scorer. While Martin had some capable scorers around him last season — John Salmons (for a while), Francisco Garcia, Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni, etc. — he only handed out 2.7 assists per game. And according to 82games.com, he recorded a measly 0.8 dimes per 48 minutes of “clutch time.” Tim Duncan put up 6.5 assists in that same scenario, and other scoring guards like D-Wade (9.4), Roy (6.2) and Allen Iverson (8.7) blew K-Mart out of the water.

With Tyreke Evans taking his place as the Kings’ point guard and a legit 20-ppg scoring threat, and strides being made by Garcia, Hawes and Jason Thompson, K-Mart should have more reasons to pass the ball this season. If he keeps scoring efficiently while being more of a playmaker, and if the Kings ever learn to get some defensive stops to keep games close, Martin will have more opportunities to show he’s worthy of go-to guy money and peer status with the League’s top-level shooting guards.

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25. Al Jefferson
26. O.J. Mayo
27. Stephen Jackson
28. Nate Robinson
29. Boris Diaw
30. Rip Hamilton

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TOPICS#DWIGHT HOWARD#KOBE BRYANT
TAGSALLEN IVERSONAndres NocioniBRANDON ROYDimeMagDWYANE WADEFrancisco GarciaJason ThompsonJohn SalmonsKEVIN MARTINSPENCER HAWESThe NBA's 30 Best Go-To PlayersTIM DUNCANTYREKE EVANS

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