Oklahoma City is gaining a player who has proven he’s one of the best shot-makers in the league, when healthy.
Some people also believe that, offensively, Oklahoma City is taking a true step backward in this deal, since Harden’s playmaking, awareness and decision-making skills are on the rise and Martin isn’t known as an off-the dribble player.
The data, however, proves otherwise. Martin’s wiggled his way (seriously, do you have a better way to describe his motions?) to 3.1 attempts at the rim per game over the past six seasons while attempting 7.8 free throws per contest. “Martin is one of the most efficient offensive players in the NBA,” said Presti. “He’s a guy that draws fouls at an unbelievably high rate. He has a great feel for the game.”
The information at hand is especially interesting considering the polar opposite positions that Harden and Martin are at in their careers. Harden has been a benefactor on most nights, as teams couldn’t possibly pay as much attention to the crafty, off-the-bench lefty as they did to Durant and Westbrook.
Harden’s proven he is as versatile a guard as there is in the NBA, but he’s done so alongside some of the game’s brightest stars. He no doubt has the potential to explode onto the scene and fill up the box score, but his versatility will be tested during the rebuilding phase in Houston. The “shackles” (SEE: Playing on a talented team that maximized his abilities in bursts) that were attached to Harden for the previous three years have been removed, and he’s free to show the world that he’s either ready or not ready to embrace the challenge of being a superstar in every phase of the game.
Martin, on the other hand, has the chance to play to his strengths on an Oklahoma City team that will be able to take advantage of them. After years of attempting to overcome the obstacles that come with playing for underachieving teams, the 6-7 shooter will have the chance to play within himself. He’s posted a career 2.1 to 1.8 assist to turnover ratio, which isn’t exactly flattering, but he’ll be surrounded by more talent than he’s ever been surrounded by and there will be less of a burden to make plays, which should aid his efficiency as a passer and playmaker.
As time moves forward, both players will become increasingly comfortable in their new roles. Martin’s adjustment should be smoother than Harden’s as a result of heading to a team that already has two superstars and a winning culture in place.
What cannot be emphasized enough is the impact this trade will have on the chemistry of the Thunder.
Durant, Westbrook and Harden were friends and co-workers who enjoyed each other’s presence on and off the court. As mature as they’ve been through their careers, the two leftover team leaders must move on in a professional and motivated manner.