Is Kevin Martin the Problem?

“Trade Kevin Martin!”

“We don’t need him!”

“He’s destroying this team and their continuity!”

Okay, so the Kings are 0-3 since Kevin Martin returned and it’s starting to bring about the Sacramento Apocalypse. I get it. Things were fun, new and exciting with Tyreke leading the team and now that Kevin Martin is back, the offense is sputtering, the team is losing and Kevin Martin isn’t scoring 30 points per game. In fact, he’s only scored 51 points in three games. But that’s not all.

Kevin Martin only has two steals in his three games back. He has as many assists as he does turnovers (six each). The Kings have only averaged 91 points per game in his three games back. Clearly, this team is suffering from his lack of usual numbers, which is leading to the utter downfall of Kings basketball, Tyreke’s eventual lack of growth and this franchise moving to Las Vegas where they’ll become the new Lakers.

Does that about cover it?

Please do me a favor: calm down and take a lap around the block.

Let’s check out some numbers that don’t suggest Kevin Martin is the reason for the downfall of Western Civilization.

- First of all, he has attempted 22 free throws in his three games back. And he made 20 of them. That’s insanely good.

- Despite the fact that Kevin Martin is assumed to be so ineffective offensively, he has a True Shooting Percentage of 55% during these three games.

- The Kings are 2-11 since they came back from 35 points down against the Bulls.

- The Kings are 0-11 against teams that aren’t the Denver Nuggets since they came back from 35 points down against the Bulls.

- Jason Thompson hasn’t been very good since the Bulls win. In fact, he’s been downright ineffective most nights. In the last 13 games, he’s only averaging 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 38% from the field and 74% from the free throw line. He’s still getting his usual attempts from the field (11) but he’s only getting to the line three times per game.

- Spencer Hawes also has been pretty poor. He’s eclipsed his season scoring average (10.7 ppg) during this stretch with 11.4 points per game. However, if you take away his outlier game of 30 points against the Lakers, it’s just 9.9 points per game since the Chicago comeback.

- Take those two big men, throw them in the middle for the Kings and you’re getting virtually nothing inside during this 13-game debacle. Now, I don’t think +/- is the best measure of how a player does necessarily but it does matter on some level. Jason Thompson’s +/- for the season is -2.2 per game. Spencer Hawes’ +/- is the worst on the team with a -5.3 per game. In this 13-game stretch, Jason Thompson is a -5.1 and Spencer is -5.8 per game.

So what does all of this mean?

I think that Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin playing together is not the issue with the Kings problem during this bad stretch. Sure, the Kings are 0-3 since Martin came back but their team problems existed way before this. The Kings haven’t been great during the last month. Their inside presence has been nonexistent. They’re relying way too much on perimeter scoring and adding Kevin Martin to the team doesn’t negatively affect this team at all.

If anything, the problem isn’t with Martin’s reinsertion causing issues with Evans’ role. The two of them are fine together. The problem is that the rest of the team isn’t stepping up to join the party. The Kings need to force the issue with getting Kevin Martin comfortable again. Once he is back in his usual Kevin Martin scoring groove, the Kings can then start working on him deferring to Tyreke Evans, which I’m sure he’ll be happy to do. He’s not a number one guy and I don’t think he’d argue with that. Everybody knows Tyreke Evans is the future of this franchise and Kevin Martin fits in perfectly with his style of play. Martin doesn’t have your usual scoring ego that we’re used to seeing.

So cool it with the “Kevin Martin isn’t good for this team” grenades. He’s not the problem. At least, he’s not the problem yet. This team has to fill more of their holes before we decide if Martin and Evans are a match made in backcourt heaven.

(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

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