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Theus: Artest's Better Than Martin

In his post-season press conference, Reggie Theus repeatedly called Ron Artest his best player, and said he's the only guy you can "throw it to" when the game's on the line.


"Down the stretch of games, what people don't really understand is that teams are throwing the ball to (Houston's) Tracy McGrady and letting him decide and figure out what's going on. They're throwing the ball to (the Los Angeles Lakers') Kobe (Bryant). They're throwing the ball to (Dallas') Dirk Nowitzki. They're throwing the ball to their best player and letting that guy get the double team and (play) out of it.


"Outside of Ron Artest, we don't have anyone you can throw the ball to ... . Without that guy, we're going to have to start figuring out where we're going to throw the ball."


According to's "super clutch" numbers, which are stats earned in the 4th quarter or overtime, less than 2 minutes left, neither team leading by more than 3, Kevin Martin scored 1.29 points per possession, including FTs and TOs. In these minutes, Artest scored 0.98 points per possession (though he added a total of 4 assists in these 34 minutes of super clutch time, as well).

If you give Martin 5 possessions in "super clutch time" in a game, the stats say he will score 6.45 points. Artest will score 4.9 points, with a fraction of an assist (which by most measures/logic would be worth a fraction of a point). A point or point-and-a-half is all the difference in the world in a close game. (Artest's stunning inability to draw a foul in the clutch -- as opposed to Martin's striking knack for drawing fouls in the same circumstances -- has a ton to do with this. Ron can draw fouls, just not in crunch time.)

Because defense is hard to measure, we could "discuss" the superior player between Martin and Artest for days and days. No one would ever win the argument. But the stats show pretty clearly that Martin is the best scorer at any time, including down the stretch, and is less likely to turn the ball over. Artest has a knack for those timely threes, or sometimes a monster late dunk (hi Joakim!). But he also has a knack for forcing junk, and getting stripped. Martin has 1 turnover in all his 33 super-clutch minutes, to go with his 30 points.

You need a bucket? You give Kevin Martin the damn ball.