Martin proves worthy replacement for Harden
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Martin showed up two and a half hours early to practice with his new Oklahoma City Thunder team recently and discovered a most peculiar thing: He was late.
“Our practice starts at 11, and I’m getting there at 8:30 and seeing Russell (Westbrook) and Kevin (Durant) – the two best players on the court,” Martin told USA TODAY Sports this week. “That just makes me want to get there at 8:29 and show them that I’m here to do whatever they need me to do.”
Martin is doing just that so far with the Thunder, averaging 19.3 points on 52.1% shooting overall and 61.9% from three-point range (13 of 21). His productive nine-year career that was spent mostly in obscurity is now front and center like never before, after he was traded from Houston to the reigning Western Conference champions for James Harden, who was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year last season, on Oct. 27.
The most unexpected of transitions continues tonight against Chicago, but the process – Martin is well aware – has just begun.
“Now it’s just about integrating yourself into a team, a very successful team, and that’s where my passion and me fitting into their family culture around here is on display,” said Martin, who was sent to the Thunder with rookie shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in exchange for Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward. “Now it’s just that process of getting everything into one big piece. We saw with Miami a couple years ago, they went 9-8 (to start the season), then went to Cleveland and that’s when it started clicking for them. It’s a process. We’re going to win a lot of games, but we know it’s very important to be playing at the beginning of June.”
Martin, as he has learned, is viewed as a critical part of that process.
From the day the plane arrived to take him from Houston to Oklahoma City, he saw how much the Thunder wanted his services. And, it wasn’t the plane itself that impressed Martin the day after the … [For more on Kevin Martin proves worthy Thunder replacement for James Harden, click here.]