On Kevin Martin, and Why It's Foolish To Buy Him a Train Ticket

It has been discussed in the Asinine Trade thread already, but I think Marc Stein's ESPN.com Weekend Dime piece on "what the scouts say" deserves further discourse. Mostly because it's stupid to a nearly ridiculous level. Stein, of course, is fantastic, one of my favorites and the best national NBA reporter (competing with Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski). This is not an attack on Stein, or on ESPN. This is one Western Conference scout, and what he thinks about the Kings' backcourt situation, and how (so, so, so very) wrong he is.

Point 1: "Martin takes the ball out of Tyreke Evans' hands and Beno Udrih's hands."

Martin played with Evans and Udrih for five games this season. These also happened to be the first five games of Evans's NBA career, which you would know and take into account, if you knew Evans is a rookie, which one can assume this scout knows, but about which we can't be certain, given the points which follow.

Of these five games that Martin played with Evans and Udrih, Evans was injured for 1-1/2 games, Martin had a broken wrist for 1-1/2 games, Udrih didn't play in one game due to coach's decision, and three of the games were on the road. Just so we're clear on the observable data here.

Point 2: "Now they have Tyreke and Beno attacking the other team's worst defenders ..."

Tyreke and Beno are guards. Kevin Martin is a guard. If you replace, say, Beno/Tyreke with Tyreke/Kevin, logic would dictate that Tyreke and Beno would now be attacking the other team's worst defenders. I mean, how on Earth does this make sense? Are opponents all stashing a Secret Defender Weapon X on their bench, keeping it out of use because Kevin Martin is injured? If Tyreke and Beno are currently attacking bad defenders, I assume Kevin will be afforded those same defenders.

If the assertion is that Tyreke and Beno attack whereas Kevin does not, well then I'd like to point out that while Beno has now drawn enough fouls to get himself 24 FTAs in 17 games this season, Martin has had two games in each he attempted at least that many, and on this season has attempted more than twice as many (49) as Beno despite playing in only five games.

Point 3: " ... they've loaded up the floor with shooters ..."

Andres Nocioni became a starter in the final game before Martin's absence began. In fact, Desmond Mason was replaced on the roster by Ime Udoka (who I guess you could call a shooter, I suppose, maybe) before Martin's MRI. Beno can be considered a shooter, yes, but was added (temporarily) to the starting line-up because he was playing out of his mind and because he was clearly (at that point) the team's third best guard. Donte Greene shot 32 percent from the field last season, and has been put in the starting five first due to an Udrih injury and now for defensive reasons, primarily. Omri Casspi is a shooter, yes, but it hardly seems like the Kings used the No. 23 pick on him for a spot in that coveted "Tyreke-Beno Strategic Plan for Sacramento's Renewal." If you think Spencer Hawes is in the starting line-up over Sean May because of shooting, well, then we're done here. Move along.

Point 4: " ... and they've taken one of their weakest defenders off the floor."

I don't want to fault this particular scout for obviously not having paid attention to Martin's defense through five games this year -- Martin has a reputation for poor defense that has been backed up by numbers and observation for about two years now. We know he improved this year (markedly) but you can't very well expect every scout to know that. It's fine. The problem is in failing to realize that the player which replaced Martin in this scout's apple-y eyes is among the worst defenders in the league, or at least was last year. That line-up also led Evans being used to guard shooting guards (because Beno can't), which hurts the team's defense. That's a big reason Beno is back out of the starting five.

Point 5: "Sometimes in the past they worked so hard to find [Martin] that three other guys ended up sitting and watching."

This is just too laughable for words, really, and I feel a bit silly for even responding to it, so I'll keep it short: do you remember the Artest-Bibby-Martin era? In which Martin was the only 20-point scorer ... even though he was third on the team in FGAs per game? Or how about every other season Martin has been a starter, in which the only player to score 20+ points a game on as few FGAs as Martin uses has been Amar'e Stoudemire? Have you ever noticed how Martin usually creates most of his own attempts, which would by definition diminish the lead to find him on offense, since he can just get the ball out on the perimeter and attack from there? Also, there's the matter that his supporting cast completely sucked on offense last season. In case you forgot.

Point 6: "If they put him on the floor with Tyreke and Beno, other teams are going to take advantage of them when they do it. Maybe they try to trade him."

Other words of wisdom from this Western Conference scout:

"If Brad Pitt flies a wax hang glider to Jupiter, his head is going to explode due to atmospheric pressure. Maybe he sells his beach house in Fiji."

"If Darvin Ham eats turkey for dinner, he'll be a walking contradicition. Maybe he picks up his dry-cleaning tomorrow."

"If Tiger Woods teams up with Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, stars of Twilight: New Moon, to sell Balloon Boy merchandise in between Girls Gone Wild and ExTenz infomercials, other celebrities will raid Larry King's refrigerator. Maybe they build snowmen in El Dorado Hills."

I, for one, would prefer:

a) Brad Pitt to either not try to fly a wax hang glider to Jupiter, or if he does to take precautions against atmospheric pressure.

b) Darvin Ham eat whatever he like for dinner, and to PICK UP HIS CODDAMN DRY-CLEANING TODAY OR ELSE.

c) Tiger Woods play golf, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen to stay off my early A.M. must-see TV schedule, Balloon Boy to practice hard because he too can become a world class badminton star and celebrities to shut the ufck out of Larry King's damned refrigerator, it smells terrible I said TERRIBLE anyway you dreadful vultures.

and d) for the Kings to not make a decision on the future of the Sacramento backcourt until they can get more than, you know, 0.5 completely healthy games in as a unit. I am positive this is what will happen, though I can't speak for Brad, Darvin, Tiger, Bella, Edward, Balloon Boy or the celebrity vultures.

***

In conclusion, Western Conference Scout should stop talking for a while. Maybe sit a few plays out.

(And booyah! Ended with a timely movie quote! TZ. IS. ON. FIRE.)

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