Kevin Martin 'waiting for the moment' when the Thunder clicks
JAMES HARDEN DEAL AFTERMATH — While the former Thunder sixth man is starring in Houston, the veteran Oklahoma City acquired in last weekend's blockbuster deal is doing as expected. He's fitting in.
Kevin Martin admitted to being nervous prior to tip-off Thursday night.
The basketball didn't bother him. This, as he said, was a different type of nervous.
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It was his debut game as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the recently-acquired shooting guard just didn't want to mess anything up.
“I've been the man the past eight years on my team,” Martin said. “I'm coming into a system where I don't have to play that role anymore, which I'm very OK with. First and foremost, I just didn't want them thinking I was coming in here trying to be that guy. It's just about doing whatever I can do to win, and I think they respect that.”
While former Thunder sixth man James Harden is averaging a league-leading 41 points through two games, the veteran Oklahoma City acquired from Houston in exchanged for him just wants to fit in.
Through two games, Martin has done just that.
Martin has stepped in and immediately supplied similar instant offense off the bench as Harden did. Going into Sunday's game against Atlanta, Martin is third on the Thunder in scoring, averaging 17 points while ranking third in assists with 3.5 per game.
“And he's doing it on the fly,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We've definitely given him a speedy course of what we do and how we like to do it. But we have a good group of guys that are willing to show him and teach him and expedite that learning curve. But he knows how to play and he does a lot of good things that you can use and we do use in our offense.”
Watching Martin work in his first two games, the first thing that stands out is his patience. He's never in a rush to do anything. His playing style is sort of similar to Harden in that way. It's an attack powered by brains rather than awesome athleticism.
The Thunder has taken advantage of Martin's basketball IQ in several ways throughout each of its first two games. He's been allowed to orchestrate the offense, search for scoring opportunities by moving without the ball and spotting up beyond the arc. Martin's knack for drawing fouls also has carried over, as he has attempted 10 free throws, all makes, in his first two games.
“He sets up his man as well as anybody we have on our team,” Brooks said.
Despite possessing an unorthodox form, Martin already has shown how he can help the team with his perimeter shooting. He's made six of his first nine 3-pointers and provided the pivotal floor spacing that allows Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant more room to attack on drives or post ups.
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