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As the team comes back to Earth, Kevin Martin stays in orbit...

After watching parts of the Spurs tilt and deciding whether I'll be able to bear seeing Baron Davis slice and dice up the Kings defense, I've come to a possibly misinformed conclusion: The Kings are above average but far from elite, while Kevin Martin is above average and has done nothing to suggest he isn't on his way to elite.

The Kings defense couldn't stop Nellieball, and the Spurs (by far the best looking team in the league right now) had their way, more or less. The offense is still a work in progress. The shooting has been good for a few games now, and the turnovers receded substantially against San Antonio.

The entire season to date, though, there's only been one constant. Not Kenny Thomas' rebounding, which has been incredible some nights and confusingly poor others. Not Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who has had quite a rollercoaster ride on offense and limited results on the other end. Not Mike Bibby, who has never given the ball away this much in his career. Not Ron Artest's defense, which has suffered as his Mercedes-inflicted injury has restricted his effectiveness.

The constant has been Kevin Martin. He's scored 20+ in seven of the nine games. He's scored 15+ in every game. He's went for 30 twice. He's shot below 50 percent in only three of the nine games, and has a 53 percent clip going overall. He has missed four of 67 free throw attempts. He's shooting 43 percent from three. He's the only King in Kelly Dwyer's latest Top 20.

He's real.

We always talk about dude's ceiling: is it Rip Hamilton? Is it Reggie Miller? Is it Mitch Richmond? Is it Kobe Bryant lite?

No one knows, and no one can reasonably guess. I've stopped being surprised by the kid, because he has exceeded every expectation every reasonable Kings fan has had.

And if we're lucky, he'll continue to do so. Long live the Kevin Martin era.