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Kevin Martin & The NBA Scoring Title

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Four years ago, Kevin Martin averaged 2.6 field goal attempts and 1.2 free throw attempt per game, for a scoring average of 2.9 pts. per game.

Three years ago, Kevin Martin averaged 7.6 field goal attempts and 3.1 free throw attempts for a scoring average of 10.9 pts. per game.

Two years ago, Kevin Martin averaged 13.3 field goal attempts and 7.1 free throw attempts for a scoring average of 20.2 pts. per game.

Last year, Kevin Martin averaged 15.0 field goal attempts and 9.5 free throw attempts for a scoring average of 23.7 pts. per game.

For Martin's career, if you take his shot attempts and free throw attempts and add them together, it comes pretty close to matching his scoring average.

In the 15 games that Ron Artest did not play last year and Kevin Martin did, he averaged 28.7 points pers game, which would have been good for 2nd in the NBA in scoring, behind only LeBron James. Martin actually finished 6th in scoring (7th if you include non-qualifier Dwyane Wade).

So, could Kevin Martin win the NBA scoring title this year?

Let's look at the competition -

  • Corey Maggette A little bit of a sleeper pick here, but Maggette averaged 22.3 pts. per game last year for the Clippers. Now he moves to Nellie ball, and he'll open the season picking up some of the scoring slack created by the injury to Monta Ellis. All things considered, you have to like him for 25-26 pts. per game, don't you?
  • Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki finished 1/10 of a point behind Martin last year, but I would be surprised if he topped 25 pts. per game with Rick Carlisle at the helm, as the Mavs will probably (a) play at least a little slower and (b) at age 30 and entering his 11th season, it's time to give Dirk a blow here and there.
  • Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson At 25.7 and 26.4 pts. per game lst year respectively, this tandem is the most formidable scoring duo in the league. They are also the reason that the neither one of them will win the scoring title, at least not while they are playing on the same team. But a 3-4 finish for AI and 'Melo last year was damned impressive, no?
  • Dwyane Wade Watch out for this guy. From 2005-07 Wade averaged over 27 pts. per game, and if he is healthy he stands to take more shots this year than he has ever taken in his NBA career. Over his past three seasons, Wade has averaged almost 19 shots and over 10 free throws per game. He could push the 30 pts. per game average this year.
  • Amare Stoudemire If this guy ever gets a requisite number of shots, watch out. Stoudemire averaged over 25 pts. per game last year on only 15.3 shots (and 8.7 free throws). His true shooting percentage is ridiculous. For all the talk of how Nash sets such a nice table, imagine if Stoudemire existed in an environment that featured him more (put him Carlos Boozer's shoes, for example). Stoudemire will probably get a couple more shots per game this year, and with his TS% that could vault him over the 28 ppg mark.
  • Kobe Bryant The world's greatest player is comfortable knowing that he does not need to lead the league in scoring to make his mark. He also knows that an NBA title is the only way to quiet all of his remaining critics (important to note that we are not critical of Kobe in Sacramento, we just hate him). With a cast of Bynum, Gasol and Odom, don't be surprised if Bryant's 28.3 pts. per game average from last year actually dips a little bit. And don't be surprised if he's still playing in June.
  • LeBron James The only player to top 30 pts. per game last year (he was right on the number), there is no reason to believe that James won't wind up over 30 pts. per game this year. His supporting cast (sometimes a contradiction in terms) remains the same, and they will rely on LeBron to score early and often.

So where does Kevin Martin fit into all of this? I figure that Martin's opportunities this year will more closely replicate his games sans Artest than the rest of last season. The Kings are talking that they are going to run a little more and run a hybrid version of the triangle. Martin will benefit from both of these things. As far as teams ganging up on him, that may affect his true shooting percentage a bit, but he's going to get his shots. And while the roster may be filled with youth and average veteran talent, Brad Miller knows how to make a team pay for double teaming a teammate, and John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Beno Udrih, Mikki Moore, and Bobby Jackson (just to name a few) know how to stick open shots. No opponent is going to be able to go "Jordan Rules" on Martin, and quite frankly it's going to be a few months before he begins to merit that type of consideration from opponents.

My call?

  1. James 31.7
  2. Wade 29.8
  3. Bryant 27.8
  4. Martin 27.4
  5. Stoudemire 27.3
  6. Anthony 26.2
  7. Iverson 25.9
  8. Magette 25.1
  9. Nowitzki 23.5
  10. Kenny Thomas (just wanted to see if you were still paying attention)

And at the end of the season, we will be asking ourselves how a guy that finishes 4th in scoring and makes the All NBA 3rd Team failed to make the All Star Team.