The Kings played five games with Kevin Martin at the beginning of the season and lost four of them for a sterling 1-4 record. Following his injury, the Kings won 14 and lost 18 (a .438 clip), giving them a 15-22 record and a .405 win per(thousand?)centage. Now that he’s back, they’ve lost 12 of 13. With Kevin in the lineup, they’re 2-16, which is a woeful .111 winning percentage. .438 > .111. Therefore, the Kings are much better without Kevin Martin—right?
Not so fast. Numbers can be so misleading.
(Note: This does not include the OT win at New York.)
It’s clear to anyone who can do simple math that the Kings have lost a lot more games with Kevin than they have won. And it’s clear that they won a lot more games without him than they have with him. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
In the games without Martin, the Kings played a group of teams whose current (as of February 9th) winning percentage averages out to .507. The opponents from the games with Martin have an average winning percentage of .536. That’s a pretty significant difference. But even that doesn’t doesn’t tell the whole story.
In the road games Kevin’s played in this year, the opponents boast a .545 winning percentage. They haven’t won a game on the road with Kevin yet (Update: take that, Knicks). The opponents from home games including Kevin win at a rate of .517. But we should probably dig a bit deeper.
Kevin has only played in 6 home games this year, as opposed to 16 road games. The two wins Martin took part in came against the Warriors and the Grizzlies. Memphis has actually put together a decent team and currently sits over .500, but Golden State is a team that most teams should beat at home. The four losses have come again stiff competition: Atlanta, Charlotte, San Antonio and Phoenix have a combined .580 winning percentage.
The majority of Kevin’s opponents have been good teams, and 73 percent(!) of the games he’s played were road games. The Kings have played 19 home games without K-Mart, as well as 13 on the road. Without him, they played 59 percent of their games at home. That’s a huge difference. But even that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Let’s look at the winning percentage of the opponents in games where Kevin didn’t suit up. In the games that the Kings won without Martin, the opponents had an underwhelming .446 winning percentage. The losses came against teams with a .554 winning percentage. With Martin, the opponents who defeated the Kings average .555.
That’s right. The Kings are going to lose against the better teams whether K-Mart’s playing or not.
The 11 home wins without Speed came against the juggernauts with a massive .423 winning percentage. Without him, they lost 8 games at home to teams with a combined .598. The road wins came against the Bulls (who blew a historic lead), a buzzer-beater against the young bucks, and the Jazz, who were caught totally off guard. Yes, they were legitimate wins. No, they haven’t won many more games after that.
But let’s not forget that the Kings had lost 8 out of 10 games before Martin returned. The slump was already on.
Since I’m not always as concise as I’d like to be, let me give a Cliff’s Notes version.
Opponents’ current records from games without Kevin: .507
Opponents’ current records from games with Kevin: .536
Significant? I’d say so.
Home games without Kevin (percentage of games without Kevin): 19 (59%)
Home games with Kevin (percentage of games with Kevin): 6 (27%)
Opponents’ win % from home wins sans Kevin: .423
11 of the Kings 14 K-less wins were home games, and 8 of those came against sub-.500 teams.
Opponents’ win percentage from losses (without Kevin): .555
Opponents’ win percentage from losses (with Kevin): .554
The Kings lose against good teams equally, whether Kevin’s playing or not.
To all this, I say: let’s give Kevin a few home games to gel with the team before we jettison him off for a pack of exercise balls. The Kings’ early success was due, in part, by their much weaker schedule. Kevin’s done nothing but work his butt off ever since he was drafted, and people want to put the blame on him for the whole team’s woes, regardless of the fact that most others have been slumping lately.
Everybody hates losing. On a rebuilding team, however, you’re going to lose to the .555 teams more often than not, and that shows through in games with and without Kevin. Let them take care of the weak teams at home, steal a few road games against the peons of the league, and then hopefully be competitive against the tougher teams. That’s still a lot better than what we expected before the season started.