What to expect from the Rockets’ upcoming season: Shooting Guard

As the doggedly hot days of this Texas summer try to turn our t-shirts into swimming pools/wet mops, the NBA lockout continues to encourage us, like a worried parent, to find other hobbies. In lieu of taking up shuffleboard or Starcraft, I’ve decided to help pass the time by breaking down the Rockets’ roster.

I’ve chosen to separate the players by position, though I realize that in this post-modern NBA doing so is a somewhat dubious and often generally pointless exercise. For the purposes of this column and my hopes of not drastically straying off topic, position will serve a purely functional distinction.

As I began last week with point guards (the easiest to define), we’ll stay in the backcourt this time around and discuss Shooting Guards.

Kevin Martin

Martin is about as intriguing an NBA player as they come. Not in the way that weirdos like Ron Artest (excuse me, Meta World Peace) or Kevin Garnett captivate us with their eccentricities, but for exactly the opposite reason. I can’t think of a single memorable post-game quote or highlight that litter other stars of Martin’s caliber’s portfolios. And make no mistake about it, despite his slight frame and seemingly diminutive on-court demeanor, Kevin Martin is a legitimate NBA star.

Martin finished second in scoring per 48 – minutes last season, behind only Kobe Bryant and ahead of the household names like Carmelo, Durant, LeBron, Wade, and Dirk. He was in the top twenty in PER despite the fact that he doesn’t collect rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks, the stats that usually keep pure scorers like him out of Hollinger’s highest ranks. What makes Martin such a special (and interesting) player is his uncanny ability to get to the free throw line. He tied the NBA scoring champ, Kevin Durant, for the most made free throws and was 4th in free throw attempts last season.

Why is this so significant? A possession that ends in free throws is potentially more successful than one that ends in an open look or even a made shot, especially for a player like Martin who converts nearly 90% of his attempts, because it also results in a foul, which can not only take opposing players out of games but also lead to more team free throws. Wonder why the Rockets had one of the top rated offenses in the league last year? Look no further than Kevin Martin’s awkward pump fakes and floppy jumpers.

Before we move on and I choke on this Kevin Martin love sandwich, it should also be noted that he is an absolutely miserable defender. This was particularly a problem at the beginning of last season as he far too often shared the court with Brooks and Scola, leading to Globe Trotter style alley-oops for opposing teams and a considerable collection of sideline face-palms for Rick Adelman. And while Martin looked at times like he was somewhat aware of defense as an idea that exists in the world of basketball by the end of last season, he can’t reasonably be expected to turn into Tony Allen any time soon. What we can expect from Kevin Martin next season is for him to continue to do what he does best:  score as efficiently as anyone in the league.

Courtney Lee

Unfortunately for Courtney Lee, what most people probably remember him for is missing the game winning lay-up in the Finals against the Lakers. And even more lamentable is the fact that that’s probably what he’ll continue to be remembered for. Lee’s greatest assets are his defense and three point shooting, skills that won’t make him a super-star anytime soon but will earn him minutes on most any NBA team. What he did well last season, particularly after the all-star break, was play within himself. He’s not the guy you want initiating the offense for your favorite team, but he is a dead eye three point shooter off the catch. He generally makes good decisions with the ball and isn’t turnover prone. He won’t fall asleep on defense and gets the occasional fast-break igniting steal. His biggest obstacle next season might just be finding playing time on this crowded roster, though I suspect his consistent play will earn him that as well.

This entry was posted in player evaluation. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  • All-time Keepers

    A collection of our best from over the years.
  • Archives

    • 2012 (398)
    • 2011 (428)
    • 2010 (461)
    • 2009 (49)
  • Categories