“We had guys already established. We already had our team set,” Durant said. “To step into a sixth-man role after being a starter for so long, that speaks volumes on how professional he is. He has embraced his role and he knows we need him to be aggressive. … I always respected K-Mart, how he approached the game, how efficient he was.”
Westbrook said Martin's even-keel calm has been a key ingredient. “He has played the game a while,” Westbrook said. “He knows what it takes to win. Him coming here was an easy transition, I think for all of us. It's been easy, man.”
Coach Scott Brooks was no stranger to Martin, having worked with him as an assistant coach with the Kings for one season.
“He's fit in very well because of his personality,” Brooks said. “He's an easy going guy. He's just a good guy. Our guys really enjoy being around him. He has good experience and I think it's a good mix with our guys.”
Brooks and Co. repeatedly preach they are nowhere near the finished product. At times, the Thunder has looked brilliant this season. On rare occasions, it has looked horrid.
One such occurrence was last Wednesday night's survival mission at home against the 5-15 New Orleans Hornets, currently the worst team in the Western Conference. The Thunder scored season-lows in the first quarter (17) and a half (36). OKC shot 30.6 percent from the field and 0 for 3 from 3-point range before intermission. Westbrook was 2 for 11 and Martin was 1 for 6.
“I had never seen us as a team just be so bad on offense,” Martin said. “Usually, it might be one or two guys. I've never seen how it was in the first half.”
During one second-quarter sequence, Martin missed badly on a 3-pointer from the left wing and Durant's facial expression seemed to say, “Wow, even Kevin Martin can't hit a shot.”
Eventually the Thunder heated up and won 92-88. Martin shot 4 for 6 from the field after halftime and finished with 17 points. The manner in which the Thunder endured that night has made the smile on Martin's face stretch even wider.
“I didn't realize how easy it was until I look up and you know you don't have to play great to win, and you're (19-4),” Martin said.