The San Antonio Spurs brought in Kevin Martin midseason to try to improve their depth. Now the question arises as to whether they should re-sign Martin.
Martin has long been neglected by the league relative to the type of scoring skills he’s brought during a distinguished career. A lot of people easily forget that this guy was a top 10 scorer for the Sacramento Kings less than a decade ago.
For 5 consecutive seasons from the 2006-2007 campaign through 2010-2011, Martin averaged over 20 points per game for the Kings and Houston Rockets.
Removed from his previous status as a go-to scorer, Martin is now being asked to provide depth as a shooting guard coming off the bench.
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Martin’s flaws as a player are well-documented. He’s not a good defender, and struggles to make a significant impact on areas of the game besides scoring.
His niche as a pure scorer is almost better served off the bench in a quasi-Jamal Crawford role. His defense is atrocious to the degree that in starter’s minutes, his detriments on one side of the court would have to be nervously weighed against the talents he brings on offense.
In a reserve role, defense isn’t as crucial of a component to his game. He’s deployed off the bench when it’s most strategically appropriate to utilize his pure offense.
He has such a unique shooting stroke that it often catches people off guard, yet he’s been able to put the ball in the basket at impressive rates throughout his career. He’s a fantastic catch-and-shoot guy coming off of screens, and also has the athleticism to create his own shot and get fouled frequently on drives to the hoop.
The concern with Martin is his one-dimensionality, and what happens when he isn’t efficiently shooting the ball. He shot just over 37% for the season, but about 35% in the 16 games he played with the Spurs. For a guy whose main selling point is scoring ability, that’s extremely ineffective shooting.
His 3-point shooting is an asset depending on what zone he’s shooting from. He shot 52% specifically from the right diagonal, and about 44% from the left corner.
The other zones communally hovered in the 31% range for him, which is especially troubling considering that most of his 3-point attempts came from those areas. His left diagonal was the most popular for him to shoot from, and he only made about 31% from that area.
His midrange shooting was equally frustrating, and he ended up shooting just over 32% from outside the paint but inside the arc, which was well below league average.
Despite the prolific scoring ability he has shown throughout his career, his stint with the Spurs was underwhelming. If Manu Ginobili decides to retire this offseason, the Spurs will be without 2 guys who played significant minutes at shooting guard off the bench.
Jonathon Simmons can easily be entrusted with extra minutes next season, and the Spurs can also pursue shooting guard depth via free agency or possibly with their late 1st round draft pick, although they may have more pressing needs than what would likely amount to a 3rd string shooting guard.
Simmons showed flashes last season that he’s more than capable of thriving in extended minutes off the bench. The Spurs should feel secure in Simmons being the main shooting guard option off the bench.
The Spurs should let Kevin Martin go. They can give Simmons an expanded role to see what he can do. Martin still has a place in the NBA, but it makes little sense for San Antonio to stay with a player primarily known for scoring who couldn’t crack a measly 36% shooting percentage for them last season.