It took a while before Kenyon Martin, currently on his second 10-day contract, to make an impact with the New York Knicks, but once he got the opportunity to play meaningful minutes Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, all anyone can do is rave about his performance, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Martin played 17 minutes off the bench against the Thunder and followed that up with 22 minutes in Saturday’s blowout win against the Utah Jazz. But while his stats would suggest that he is averaging only 4.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in his three games in a Knicks uniform, his value to this team has been so much greater than that early on.
The Knicks were at their best early in the season when Rasheed Wallace was healthy, helping to anchor the second unit defensively. Since Wallace has been out of the lineup, since late December, the Knicks haven’t been the same team defensively.
That could all change though as it looks like K-Mart could thrive in Wallace’s old role.
Martin’s role should increase now that Amar’e Stoudemire will miss the next six weeks and the Knicks should benefit from that.
What made the Knicks good with ‘Sheed in the lineup was the fact that Wallace communicated great defensively.
Martin is a similar player and should have similar results.
He not only communicates defensively, but he defends the pick-and-roll tremendously. In addition Martin is a physical presence guard the post, and is an overall great defender who plays with a high intensity all of the time.
Martin provides a spark off the bench, which seemed to be missing at times and makes things a whole lot easier for Tyson Chandler, as Chandler doesn’t have to scramble and make up for teammates mistakes for 48 minutes. When Chandler and Martin are together on the floor, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year finally has a guy who he can trust with defensive assignments.
The difference between Wallace and Martin though is that K-Mart can defend multiple positions, evident by when Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson used him primarily on the NBA’s leading scorer Kevin Durant for a 13-minute stretch Thursday night.
It’s safe to say that Martin will be in a Knicks uniform for the rest of the season and it’s even safer to assume that K-Mart has found his role for the rest of the season.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.