While only playing just 18 games in blue and orange, Kenyon Martin quickly established himself as a fan favorite among the Madison Square Garden faithful. It’s hard to believe that Martin will be entering his 14th NBA season. It feels like just yesterday he was making runs into the playoffs with Jason Kidd and company in New Jersey. After many years with the Denver Nuggets and a short stint in Los Angeles (Clippers) in 2011-2012, Martin almost didn’t play basketball last season and more than likely wouldn’t have had it not been for an injury plagued Knicks squad desperate for front court help. Needless to say, after watching the 35-year-old Martin be a difference maker defensively the Knicks needed to bring him back for a full season.
Alright, so maybe the bad knees of Amare Stoudemire and the walking injury that is Andrea Bargnani really made the the decision to bring back Martin that much easier. It’s hard to deny that he doesn’t fit well with this team though. The Knicks don’t need him to play more than 20 minutes a game if the injury bug bites the other big men on the roster, and don’t need him to be an impact scoring option. At this stage Martin can play solid defense and on occasion throw down a monster dunk, especially off the pick & roll alley-oop.
Although he is not as athletic as he once was, Martin plays the game with a veteran savvy. He knows his limitations and knows how to play smart defense. He does have a tendency to pick up silly fouls more than most, but a part of that is the Knicks inability to stop guards from penetrating into the lane. For Martin’s sake I hope the Knicks don’t play him at the center position behind Tyson Chandler, because asking him to defend the Roy Hibberts, Brook Lopezes and Joakim Noahs of the world is just unfair. After all Martin is only 6-9 and is a slender 225 pounds. Martin’s best position on the Knicks would be at power forward complimenting Andrea Bargnani at center. Those two can play solid on the floor together based on styles of offense and defense.
Its tough to judge Martin by the numbers because he did only play in 18 contests for the Knicks, excluding the playoffs. However, his numbers were solid. He averaged 7.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.9 steals per game, which included a surprisingly low PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 13.94, which is slightly below league average. The shot chart doesn’t say much because Martin does a majority of his damage from inside of 10 feet and most of that is at the basket. What the numbers don’t indicate is Martin’s ability to alter shots and be a pest defensively. He will have the same impact for the Knicks defensively next season.
Kenyon Martin should have another solid season as his career nears it’s end. I predict the number will be around 8-10 points, 5-7 rebounds, 1-1.5 blocks and 0.5-1.0 steals per game. Martin may be forced to play more minutes than he bargain’s for given the health of both Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. He may end up being in the starting/secondary unit by mid-late season in 2014. That’s the whole reason for bringing Martin back was to be an insurance policy for the Knicks front court, and when called upon he will do a solid job as he has throughout his career. He will give the Knicks an all out effort when he is on the floor. That’s just the type of player he has always been.