As he made his way through a media horde to step in front of the team banner that would be the backdrop at his introductory press conference, Kevin Martin on Monday casually was asked how he was doing.
“I'm doing great now,” said the slender new shooting guard who arrived Sunday as part of a package for James Harden.
There was something behind the response, something more significant that simple satisfaction of Martin having gotten his first practice in a Thunder uniform under his belt. The “now” had meaning, a purpose.
“Coming to an organization and a team that is building a great team with a great supporting cast in the community,” Martin said, “I think they just have the right makings for any player to want to come and play for them.”
The winning doesn't hurt, either, especially for Martin.
After eight NBA seasons, Martin finally fell into a good situation, a successful team set up to make a deep playoff run. Throughout his career, the now 29-year-old sharpshooter has been the star player putting up eye-popping point averages on bad-to-mediocre teams. He hasn't journeyed to the playoffs since 2006 — and that trip ended after just six first-round games against San Antonio.
Individual success got old. Losing took a toll.
“I've been wanting to play on a team like this for a while, with two other big-time scorers,” Martin said, referring to All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. “I knew I was going to have an opportunity someday. I'm glad it came this soon.”
With an 18.4-point average for his career, Martin has a well-established reputation as one of the game's elite scoring guards. As Durant said Monday, “Kevin can fill it up pretty quickly.” In his best season, Martin averaged 24.6 points with the Kings in 2008-09. But Sacramento won 17 games that year, and Martin missed 31 games due to injuries.
Both sort of sum up Martin's career.
Excluding his rookie season, when he played just 45 games, Martin has appeared in just 85 percent of his team's games. Many have labeled Martin brittle because of his habitual bouncing in and out of the lineup. But Martin says he's now healthy, and his best chance at winning big for the first time in his career is expected to rejuvenate a player who has long held All-Star potential.
The last 50-win team Martin was a part of was the 2004-05 Sacramento Kings. It was his only 50-win team. Martin was just 21, a rookie who averaged only 10.1 minutes.
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