If you asked most people what Kevin Martin means to the Oklahoma City Thunder as a sixth-man, the majority of answers are probably going to say something about him providing offense off the bench. However, that statement severely understates what Martin has meant to the Thunder this season.
Oklahoma City acquired Martin from the Houston Rockets in the blockbuster James Harden trade right before the 2012-2013 NBA season got underway. He was expected to be Harden’s replacement in the sixth-man role, but not in the way Harden produced for OKC. And Martin hasn’t been what Harden was; but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been a tremendous asset for the Thunder.
Martin has the highest offensive rating on the Thunder at 113.2, but also doesn’t affect their defense negatively that much either, having a 101.3 defensive rating. His 11.9 net rating, which measures the difference between the offensive and defensive ratings, is the third-highest on OKC and is just 0.4 lower than the net rating of superstar Kevin Durant.
Moreover, Martin also leads the Thunder in three-point percentage at 43.6 percent and has the fourth-highest true shooting percentage, which factors in field goal, three-point and free-throw percentages into one figure, at 61.7 percent.
Martin is also third on the Thunder in scoring, averaging 15 points per game and obviously trailing Durant and Russell Westbrook in that category.
That’s just how good Martin has been offensively. He hasn’t just been someone who is decent off the bench and can maintain a lead; he’s been a player who has played well enough offensively to stretch leads and make this Thunder team remarkably good.
Martin is obviously never going to be Harden. Harden is one of the 25-best players in the NBA by most measures so that comparison is pretty unfair. However, Martin has been exactly what the Thunder have needed and he should probably be recognized more for what he’s accomplished this season.