NBA, The NBA's 30 Best Go-To Players / Sep 23, 2009 / 12:00 pm

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

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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  • Celts Fan

    The only guys on the list (so far) that I wouldn’t take over him (for right now) are Nate Rob and Diaw. Martin’s a d@mn good player, but he’s best as a #2 or #3 unless he wants to take early vacations the rest of his career…

  • The REAL Tyrone

    Ain’t no doubt y’all that Kmart be rockkin this year yo. Cat’ real quick and got dem ability to be shootin accurately. He be dishin dopey dimes too yo.

    True thugs NEVER lie.
    The Real Tyrone

  • Gerald Narciso

    I love Martin’s game but it really is hard to grasp how good he is. Is he just a good player on a bad team a la Jim Jackson? Could he still be “the man” if he was on a good team? He isn’t as young as people think so I think he has to start producing wins soon before he can get as Austin put it “peer status”

  • Sacto_J

    K-Money is absolutely a borderline all-star. What will tip the scales for him will be when he learns to play tougher man to man, and when he starts dropping dimes. When that happens, no one will be able to argue his status. Until then, however, he’s just a damn efficient scorer. I sincerely love what he brings to the game and to our city (poster boy for wholesome values, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him put on a mean-face or turn down a charity or autograph,) but would like to see him get in someone’s grill and be a stopper on the defensive end. Even more than assists, this could be what sends him to the next level. This young core in Sacto has lots of promise, and it would be nice to see K-Money lead them back to the playoffs in a year or two….

  • Boombaby

    I never expected this! haha.. Of course Martin is the only who could score for the King what do you expect. Next number please.. :)

  • http://2muchswag.blogspot.com Hanleezy

    I hope Ben Gordon is ranked higher than Diaw and Nate

  • TJ

    @ Hanleezy,

    BG won’t be ranked at all since Dime put Rip Hamilton on the list already.

  • Jake

    Gerald Narciso I totally agree with you man. Its really to hard to tell whether K Mart is as good as his stats… I mean he plays for the Kings. Time will tell, especially now that the Kings have Tyreke Evans who seems like he’ll be a beast of a player. With Evans on the floor it’ll be a good test for K-Mart, to see what he’s really made of and to see how he plays with another ball-dominant player on the floor. The key ultimately is for him to stay healthy and to be productive. He’s a solid player but the question is unavoidable; is he really just the best player on a very bad team or is he actually good enough to run with the big dogs?

  • Kobeef

    Agree – K-Mart2 is a “good numbers on a bad team” unless he proves otherwise.


    You forgot he is a defensive liability. Martin might give you 20 but the other team shooting guard dropped 40. Kings lose by 20 points!

    This guy is a fraud. An All-Star he will never be! And don’t ever mention him as a go-to guy, a closer!

  • Ian

    agree with post 10 he isnt that good.

  • doc

    Give me Al Jeff and OJ.He’s okay I just dont like the softies.

  • Cozi

    Sactown local here…k mart is overrated..to be a go to guyu have to have some moves and unless it’s a catch and shoot kmart has no moves!!!..we played the cavs last year kmart had bron bron guardin him in a tie game held for the last shot and couldn’t even get a shot off!!!..no handles for a guard therefore not a go to guy!!

  • the cynic

    next medicore go-to player…. Micheal Redd

  • Spencers Mom

    K-Mart’s value is yet to be determined but I think he fits at #24 on this list thus far in his career. Whether you love or are down on him I think he has earned his props from us all. He came out of no where, worked at his game and made himself a great NBA baller. Is he a perenial all-star? No. Would every coach in the league be interested if he was available? Yes.

  • Kquaye

    K-Mart is a good player He is a borderline All Star. He’s a good shooter but he specializes in getting to the Free Throw Line to score and that is probably what makes him so injury prone.

  • http://www.kingsfans.com Willis

    I am a huge Kings fan (see website.) I’m really glad you guys are showing K$ some love. Kevin is such a great individual scorer that he would put up those stats regardless of what team he is on. He would also make a great second fiddle, because of how much he can accomplish with just a few possessions a game. Back when Bibby, Brad Miller, and Artest were on the team, Kevin got about 12 shots a game. And averaged 20 points.

    That is retardedly efficient. That is like 2k10 efficient (w/ sliders). He isn’t the type of player you can necessarily build an offense around, but he isn’t the type that needs that either. He doesn’t make his teammates better by dishing ‘dopey dimes’ because last season he averaged like 2.5 apg, but he does make them better just by creating better spacing on the floor. Which is why ‘Reke Havoc will be ROY.

  • http://www.btv.com.ph sh!tfaced

    Kevin Martin is one of the L’s most efficient players. The man can score 25 points on 10 shots given his ability to get to the line. He is one of the most resourceful scorers right now, up there with Kobe, Pierce and AI.

    If you put K-Mart on a team like, say, Denver, then the Nuggets would be giving the Lakers a run for their money. And he’d own the K-Mart nick too, taking it away from that fraud, Kenyon Martin.

  • SIR_SILK23


  • BB

    To all the haters: Yeah, he’s the best scorer on a bad team, but what the f**k does that mean? That means he’s been getting double teamed night in and night out, guarded by the opposing team’s best defender. …And you guys are still bashing him after posting one of the league’s best efficiency numbers? You guys will be sticking your foot in your mouth next season when Martin ISN’T being double teamed night in and night out, cause he’ll have Tyreke in the back-court, too.