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With Martin, We'll Take It

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A wholly unsatisfying win, to be sure, with the game in question in the final minutes... despite the opponent missing their MVP candidate and holding no one else who can win a game on their own (T.J. Ford possibly excepted).

Something that struck me -- Kevin Martin did not have a beautiful game. Five turnovers, 9-21 FGAs. Most players would get a rap across the fingers for that sort of night (from us, at least; the TV crews would be too mesmerized by 32 points and 8 rebounds). So why will Martin assuredly get a free pass here, especially from me?

Because we want Martin to shoot more. Even if his efficiency slips a bit -- with some extra TOs and a few more missed FGAs -- he's our best weapon. I'm no economist, but I feel comfortable in saying we have not hit the point of diminishing returns when it comes to taking shots from Artest, Udrih, Miller, Garcia and Salmons and giving them to Martin.

Maybe it says more about the team -- that Martin with a slight chucker streak is still a more efficient player than everyone else. I think the opposite: It says more about Martin, and just how smart a weapon he is. It takes me back to something Theus said the other day, in discussing working personally with Martin:

"I always tell our offensive guys, 'You have to be more aggressive than the defense,'" Theus said. "You have to take the contact to the defense first as an offensive player. Because if you allow the defense to make contact with you, then you are off-balance. But if you get to them first, then you get them off-balance. Offensive players, great offensive players, control the defense. And that's what Kevin will be able to do eventually."

Kevin already does this. In fact, all the team's wings do this (with varying success). It is the bigs -- excepting Spencer Hawes, surprisingly -- who don't do much to put pressure on the defense. And while Mikki Moore has had a phenomenal string the past few games (including 17 points last night), he's still the offensive weakness; he's the guy who, on most nights, allows such painless help defense to be executed by the opponents. Mikki's offense is what allows Martin and Udrih to have two shots blocked every night; his lack of a threat keeps Miller covered tight in the high post.

It's nothing against Mikki -- he's been much better than he had any right to be this season. He has been a phenomenal teammate, the perfect voice for this team. But ...

Imagine if Shareef could still run. He could provide similar defense to Moore, similar rebounding... and another offensive threat. He's not the guy who makes you a championship team, sure. But he'd certainly help out the other four guys on offense more than Mikki can.

(Again: Not a knock on Mikki. I love that guy. MM, if you're reading: I'll buy you a Big Boss from Fosters Freeze. Or two. Seriously, we like you!)