Look, I know that Kenyon Martin has only played 13 games with the Knicks, but recently, he has been a valuable piece to the Knicks bench. It wasn’t fair to adjudge the way K-Mart played during his first 10 day tenure because he got little to no playing time. He only played one game during his first 10 day deal, and was on the floor for just under 5 minutes, the game being Stephen Curry’s 54 point explosion at MSG. The second 10 day deal was pretty much the same, except, he actually got playing time, but again, in only one game. K-Mart made his legitimate Knicks debut against the Thunder and pulled a Bill Walker by fouling out in 17 minutes of run, four of those fouls being in a very short span. But at the same time, if it wasn’t for him defending Kevin Durant, defending as in bear hugging him or smacking the crap out of him, the Knicks wouldn’t have been in that game. Then, K-Mart was signed for the remainder of the season, and as of now, it has turned out to be a great move.
The reason the Knicks have K-Mart is because ever since Ronnie Brewer was sent off to Oklahoma City for a 2014 second round pick, his departure vacated a roster spot. At first, I was a little cynical about the move because of his run-of-the-mill stats and play with the Clippers from last season, but since then, that hasn’t been the case, as K-Mart has showed he is still a legitimate viable option off the bench and as, recently, a starter. Because of the injuries of Tyson Chandler, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace, K-Mart has served as the starting center even in front of Marcus Camby, despite standing at 6’9 (still trying to figure what’s up with Camby and Woodson). The one thing I wasn’t skeptical about, though, was Martin’s ability to rebound and the physicality he can accommodate while on the court because that was presumably a given.
Given that the Knicks have had a rebounding atrophy this season, (they rank 26th in rebounding as of this writing) they needed someone to compliment Tyson Chandler, and even Carmelo Anthony, to crash the boards. Take the back-to-back match-ups against the Raptors for example. K-Mart served as his own squeegee man and cleaned the glass a la a window scaffolder, pulling down 18 total rebounds in those two games, 9 of them being offensive, one of those games being a double-double for him. Also, the game against Boston a couple of nights ago. He was barraging the also injured Celtics with put back dunks coming off of offensive rebounds. In the 13 games (starting in 8 of them) K-Mart has played in, he’s averaged 5.1 RPG, 2.1 of those rebounds being on the offensive glass in 23.5 minutes a game, along with a 9.9 ORB% and a 12.6% TRB%. Yes, it certainly is small sample size to the max, but like the Rasheed Wallace gamble in the wee parts of the season, it’s paying off.
Not only has K-Mart’s rebounding presence been great, but he’s also acted as a rim protector. In 7 of his 13 games, Martin has logged at least one block, averaging 1.3 BPG per 36 minutes and 3.6 fouls a game, which sounds rather jocular, but effective. His fouls average represents the physicality intimidation factor, much like the often-brought-up 90s Knicks bully ball “no layups” mentality, hence his bear hugging and aggressive cheap hacks. He ain’t no fugazy now. Tim Thomas is jealous that K-Mart is still playing basketball. Speaking of bear hugging…
We knew that aggressiveness was one of the main components we were going to get in K-Mart. Along with the great rim protectors the Knicks have in Chandler and Camby, Martin adds yet another rim protecting option, as well as clogging opposing team’s pick and roll lanes. When Rasheed Wallace went down with a stress fracture, the Knicks lost a key interior defender. K-Mart acts as the interior defensive replacement for Sheed. When Tyson Chandler comes back, which will be pretty soon, if not tonight against the Bobcats (I suggest to sit him, Woody), obviously K-Mart’s minutes will be lowered, but not by much. Assuming that Mike Woodson still has a grudge against Marcus Camby for some odd reason, Martin’s minutes will stay near his 23.5 minutes a game average, but again, like Rasheed Wallace, the minutes have to be preserved at a steady consistent rate, somewhere around 16-20 minutes a night. Even though K-Mart is playing well right now, there are limits. The Knicks signed him while having not played a game for anyone prior to signing him this season.
I don’t think anyone thought Kenyon Martin was going to produce at the level he is right now. Let’s hope the Knicks training staff doesn’t hide an injury that can cost an arm and a leg, literally, particularly a stress fracture.
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