“I was never shooting in games before because I always drove to the basket. I have just been getting confidence from the coaches and teammates to shoot. It’s been hard work. I had the stigma I couldn’t shoot, even in high school.”
How can someone—after already establishing themselves with a lifetime’s worth of a sample size playing basketball—go from expendable backup to flowing on the aqueous edge of elite in under 16 months? Some players take an abnormal amount of time to find themselves and obtain the amount of confidence they need. Maybe it’s a single moment—a game winning shot or elusive move that makes 20,000 bent knees go straight—or maybe it’s a slow, gradual evolution. It’s quite bizarre for a player to show drastic improvement in the area of such blatant weakness, but it happens. Kyle Lowry is proof. Read More
Every championship contender has its separate yet connected segments. The uncompromising rebounders, self-sacrificing passers, and defensive enthusiasts. The creative coaches who know how to play complicated match-ups and designate rotations, the shrewd wheelers and dealers sitting in an office high above the battlefield, and the owners, who seem interested enough in the sport of basketball to actively involve themselves in the month to month operations of his/her team. But the most visible, and arguably the most important, puzzle piece is the guy who grabs opponents by the throat with a dizzying array of unstoppable offense; the fourth quarter scorer, the go-to guy, the One Who Takes The Last Shot.
Last year was Kevin Martin’s first full season as a Houston Rocket. He started 80 of the team’s 82 games, matching a 2006-07 career high in appearances. Then, he was a 23-year-old in his third season. He saw the court for 2818 minutes and scored 1618 points. Last year, as at the more seasoned age of 27, Martin played 2603 minutes (215 fewer than 2006-07), and scored 1876 points (258 more than 2006-07). Disregarding all other factors such as teammates, coaches, and every other meaningful statistic, these numbers show Kevin Martin’s improvement as a basketball player who’s become more careful in utilizing his moments on the court. His career’s been one of the more unlikely upward renovations we’ve seen in quite some time.
All three Texas teams have now won titles and they did it on the backs of some all-time greats. In a look back at recent history, I got together with Tim Varner (ESPN.com’s 48 Minutes of Hell) and Rob Mahoney (New York Times, NBC Sports, and ESPN.com’s The Two Man Game) for a Texas-sized 3-on-3.
Posted in Uncategorized
There has been a lot of discussion about how the lockout/now shortened season will affect the NBA landscape. Who will play the role of Shaun Kemp and eat his way out of professional sports? Which veteran team will be this year’s asterisk champion (Spurs again?)? How much will James Harden’s beard interfere with his ability to see the ball?
But for the Rockets, I think the more significant question might be how all this mess could affect the team next year. This season for the men in red was supposed to be about evaluating its young talent. Since it’s been clear numbers 1 and 11 regrettably have bones made of glass, the team has been steadily accumulating assets. But now with Yao and T-Mac officially/unofficially retired and there only being 3 players on the roster older than 26, this was supposed to be the year to evaluate these assets, to parse this pirate’s booty into genuine treasures and costume jewelry.