There are many factors why Kevin Martin's transition with the Thunder has gone so smoothly. The biggest reason has been Martin himself — his talent, his knowledge, his commitment, his unselfishness, his demeanor.
And, perhaps above all else, his happiness. Good luck trying to wipe the smile off Martin's face.
“I've got an easy life right now,” said Martin, seemingly somewhat embarrassed to admit it.
Martin is averaging 16.0 points, shooting 93.3 percent from the free-throw line (second in the league) and 46.8 percent from 3-point range (sixth). Playing the role of OKC's top reserve, he is averaging 29.7 minutes on a team that owns the NBA's best record (19-4) and longest winning streak (10).
Not a bad start for a guy who joined his new teammates just five days before their season opener.
The Thunder obtained Martin, rookie guard Jeremy Lamb, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick from the Houston Rockets in exchange for reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, plus center Cole Aldrich, guard Daequan Cook and forward Lazar Hayward.
Harden averaged 16.8 points last season with the Thunder and Martin is just 0.8 behind that clip. In the scoring column, it's essentially a wash, which rarely occurs when you've just traded away a player who's a candidate for max money.
Harden quickly accepted a five-year, $80-million maximum deal with the Rockets. Martin is in the final year of a contract that pays him $12.94 million this season.
In his eight seasons, Martin's ability to get to the free-throw line has made him one of the NBA's most efficient players, scoring many points on few field-goal attempts.
But while driving hard to the basket at 185 pounds, Martin took physical beatings with the Sacramento Kings (2004-10) and Rockets (2010-12) while being rewarded with just one playoff season (2005-06).
“I'm just enjoying life right now,” Martin said, “and my body's loving it.”
Obviously, Martin's new teammates and coach also played a role in his seamless entry. Opponents have left Martin in order to help out defenders doing their darndest to corral Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“They realize they've got to pick their poison on this team, especially if Russ is at the 1 (point guard), I'm at the 2 (shooting guard) and KD's at the 3 (small forward),” Martin said. “Sometimes they'll leave KD, which you don't want to do, and sometimes they'll leave me or Russ.”
What matters most, of course, is the bottom line — winning. After losing two of its first three games this season, OKC has since gone 18-2.