30Q asks the important questions about the Kings all through September.
Much was made at draft time, and much will continue to be made in major publication previews, as to whether Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin can co-exist.
It's a long, alternately powerful and polished backcourt we imagine. Evans has the makings of a defensive star, while Martin remains one of the top offensive players in the league. Both get to the line at will. Evans has an indelible crossover to beat down his opponents, while Martin has an unprecedented combination of shooting and driving skills.
But still, people wonder whether it will work.
Why? Because Tyreke Evans doesn't have much use for your mold, and because few understand Kevin Martin. How soon we forget Martin scored 20 points a game ... as Eric Musselman's third option! That season, the team rarely ran plays for Martin -- he only took 13 FGAs per game, for crying out loud, a full shot fewer than each of Mike Bibby and Ron Artest. But by playing to his strengths and shooting the lights (the same thing he does every year) he was able to succeed.
Is playing with Tyreke Evans going to limit Martin in ways playing between Bibby and Artest did? Is Martin suddenly going to forget how to be efficient? Of course not! Martin does not need to be set up -- he just needs some teammates to take a little pressure off by being able to score themselves. Being able to score themselves ... sounds like Tyreke, no?
Jason Thompson might need a passer to set up half his scores. Perhaps Omri Casspi and Donte Greene will be in the same boat. But that's not the question in question. Don't be worried about Too Freaky and Speed -- Martin doesn't need a Nash, and there will be plenty of shots between them. (On that note, don't be worrying about sharing the offensive load. Last year, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each had usage rates over 27%! They were able to do this by taking the ball out of other Spurs' hands. This Kings team would be best off if Martin and Evans dominated the ball to that level. Having two ultra-high usage guards is actually a boon when your other players aren't terribly polished or, um, good.)
On defense, Martin has never had help like this. No one comes into the league as a stopper -- it took Rajon Rondo one season (and an injection of KG) to figure it out, and Russell Westbrook is the sort of hypercosmic freak you can't base hypotheses on. But from the outset, Too Freaky is the best defender Martin will have ever shared a backcourt with. (Apologies to Orien Greene.) That will do two things, in my perspective: allow Martin to cover the lesser opposing guard -- the Delonte Wests, the Michael Finleys, the Derek Fishers -- which, by extension, should let Martin gamble a bit more. Martin has good instincts and (of course) long arms; in that aforediscussed 2006-7 season, Martin picked up better than a steal per game. If Evans is hassling a lead guard, Martin can keep his head on a swivel and look for opportunities. (This is all theory, but I don't believe it's a terribly controversial that adding a good defender to a backcourt helps out the rest of the team on defense.)
Evans will very soon become, if he is not already, the best point guard Kevin Martin has ever played with. Mike Bibby was no slouch, but the tools Evans possesses are so different and so ... complementary that I have no question it will work. In fact, I'd be a bit worried about Reke's transition if he didn't have such a dominating teammate at the two-guard. But we've seen Martin go without, and he's found a way to feed. He doesn't need the cake to survive -- but the frosting should make him that much better.