Last season, the New York Knicks signed Kenyon Martin midseason to back up starting center Tyson Chandler and provide some sorely-needed frontcourt depth. The former No. 1 draft pick was coming off a disappointing season with the Los Angeles Clippers and was a free agent for much of the 2012-13 campaign. At the time of the signing, it was unclear if the Knicks could count on him fill his role but he managed to greatly exceed all expectations.
In his 18 games (11 starts) with the Knicks, Kenyon Martin provided exactly what the Knicks needed – tough defense, rebounding and hustle. While he’s a bit undersized for the center spot, he performed admirably against opposing big men and showed good quickness in defending the pick-and-roll. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Knicks were 2.9 points per 100 possessions better when K-Mart was on the floor. He’s not a great defensive rebounder though and he was too foul prone at times, picking up a whopping 5.3 fouls per 36 minutes.
Offensively, his skillset is limited but effective. He sets good, solid screens and rolls hard to the rim. Even at 35 years of age, Martin’s still athletic enough to get above the rim and finish alley-oops. Even though it’s clearly a small sample size, K-Mart finished 77.4% of his attempts within five feet of the basket and there were times at the end of the season when he was every bit as effective around the basket as Tyson Chandler. Martin even has a nifty floater that he sometimes breaks out when he can’t quite get all the way to the rim. Despite poor jump shooting, he still managed to shoot 60.2% from the field for the season, a rate higher than his awful 42.5% performance from the free throw line. He also snatched 2.8 offensive boards per 36 minutes, the second-highest mark of his career.
While he’s too old to play heavy minutes, Kenyon Martin can come off the bench and give the Knicks exactly what they need off the bench and he’s a great insurance policy in case Chandler gets injured. He should continue to be a key role player for the Knicks this year.