After knocking down four fourth quarter 3-pointers against Philadelphia last week, Kevin Martin thought he had shaken off a mini shooting slump.
Except he went to Toronto and shot 5-12, including 1-6 from 3. Then he went to Washington and hit just 3-12, including 0-6 from 3.
“I guess it snuck into my suitcase,” he said.
There’s a saying in basketball: The bench doesn’t travel. And for Martin, who has been adapting and adjusting to a new role of coming off the bench for really the first time in his career, that saying has sort of played out true.
Here are the splits: At home this season (21 games) Martin is averaging 16.8 points on 47.1 percent shooting, including 50.0 percent from 3 and 93.0 percent from the free throw line. On the road though (13 games), Martin is averaging 13.0 points on 38.5 percent shooting, including 34.4 percent from 3 and 92.0 percent from the free throw line.
That’s quite a difference.
What’s interesting about it is that nothing is really different in Martin’s game home to road. He takes roughly the same number of shots (10.8 home, 10.0 road), he takes roughly the same number of 3s (5.1 home, 4.9 road) and gets to the free throw line about the same (4.3 home, 3.9 road).
The big difference is, shots aren’t dropping on the road. At least not at the high percentage Martin typically enjoys.
I’ve wondered if Martin’s struggles could be tied to the fact that he relies so heavily on the 3-point line. This season, about 48 percent of Martin’s shots have come from 3. Before joining the Thunder, he took just 33 percent of his shots from deep. He’s obviously become more of a spot-up shooter, more of a specialist in a role. Something he says he’s very comfortable with.
“I’m loving the role. I know when I have to be a scorer and I know when I have to be a shooter,” Martin said. “Like I’ve been saying ever since I got here, it’s such an easy life for me. Like you mentioned,  percent of my shots have been 3s and as long as I’m hitting them at a high percentage I’ll continue to do that and take care of my body … because you know, back in the day I had to get to the hole to try and draw some free throws to get some rhythm back.”
Why the change though? Is it by design? Just by default of playing with Durant and Westbrook?
“I think it’s just with KD and Russ, beginning part of the second quarter I’m probably more of a scorer,” Martin said. “I go back and forth between being a scorer and then fourth quarter I’m more of a shooter playing with those guys. It’s just about adapting and sticking with it.”
Next thing to adapt to: the road. It’s not something Martin has struggled with in his career until this season. Remove last season where Martin was injured, and his home-road splits are almost identical across the board. The new piece in the equation is that he’s coming off the bench.
It’s something James Harden had issues with too for a while, if you remember. It’s an unexplainable phenomenon in basketball, but bench players often don’t consistently contribute.
Why is this especially relevant? Because the Thunder are about to head out on their most significant road stretch of the season, playing nine of their next 10 away from The Peake. Which honestly could be a good thing for Martin. Longer stretches away from home, more opportunities to get settled and find a comfort level.
Because the Thunder have to have Martin, home and away. When he scores in single-digits, the Thunder are just 4-3 on the season. When he scores 15 or more, the Thunder are 20-3.
Something to think about when you’re packing, K-Mart.