The Thunder Needs More From Martin

Wednesday, May 1st 2013, 12:15 am
By: News 9

There are plenty of concerns for the Thunder to address in a Westbrook-less world.

The one that seems to be pointed to first is Reggie Jackson's ascension to the starting point guard role and how he'll adapt in a high-pressure environment on the fly.

Then there's how Kevin Durant will shift into more of a volume-shooter mentality as he takes on an even bigger responsibility in the scoring department.

There's the increased offensive production needed from Serge Ibaka, the important leadership of veteran Derek Fisher, and the list goes on and on.

All those points are valid, but one concern seems to be going unnoticed: Where in the world does Kevin Martin go in the second half of games?

K-Mart's second-half disappearing act has been a trend throughout the season and, prior to Westbrook's injury, it could be explained away relatively easily. The most likely of the reasons being that he knew he wasn't the alpha dog on the team, deferring instead to KD and Russ in crunch time.

But with Russell relegated to watching from the sidelines for the remainder of the season, Martin's lack of an impact is all-the-more puzzling and problematic.

Martin has had a positive impact in the first halves of games 3 and 4, scoring 12 and 14 points, respectively.

But in the second half, K-Mart is closing up shop a bit too early.

His scoring totals after halftime the past two games: 0 and 2.

Not surprisingly, the team's offensive production has taken a serious hit, as well. When Martin is scoring, so is OKC. The team is averaging 63 points in the first half, but when Martin disappears, so do the points, as the Thunder is averaging just 40.5 in the second half.

Part of the blame can be placed on coach Scott Brooks' rotations, which consistently take Martin out of his rhythm. Despite Martin's huge impacts, he spends the majority of the third quarter on the bench in favor of Kendrick Perkins, who has been abysmal in this first-round series.

By the time K-Mart re-enters the game, it has been up to 30 minutes of real time since he was on the floor, including the half time break. In that scenario rust sets in and pure shooters can get a bit gun shy. While that move by the OKC coaching staff is likely part of the problem, it's not all of it.

Most of it falls on Martin. If he's catching the ball open, he's not shooting. If he does shoot, he hesitates and misses. If it's not one thing, it's another. Other times he becomes completely invisible, seldom touching the ball for multiple possessions in a row.

It's not really that he's not shooting well, it's that he's not shooting at all. He took the first shot of the fourth quarter in Game 4 and he made it -- he never shot again.

This is a problem and it needs fixing if Oklahoma City plans on making a serious run without Westbrook in the lineup.

There aren't many players on the Thunder's roster with explosive scoring potential but Martin is one of them. There's a reason the Western Carolina product makes nearly $12.5 million dollars a year; he's explosive.

Martin has averaged more than 20 points per game in five of his seasons in the NBA. He has the potential to make up for some of the lost scoring but, for whatever reason, he's not asserting himself when he's needed most.

It's no coincidence that Houston has made massive second-half runs against OKC in the past three games. Oklahoma City desperately needs him to stretch the floor to create opportunities for everyone else.

Make no mistake about it, Martin has played admirably since the James Harden trade, finishing fourth in this season's Sixth Man of the Year voting. He's been a big factor in OKC's success but he's needed more than ever now.

So far Durant, Jackson, Fisher and the like have risen to the challenge without Westbrook. It's time Martin joined the club because the road gets much rougher after Houston.