Kmart knows what he can add to Nuggets lineup
Of all the adjectives used to describe Kenyon Martin, “passive” is about as common as “scrawny,” “soft-spoken” or “timid.”
Yet, that’s how the Nuggets forward describes himself when talking about his scoring mentality over the past few seasons.
While no one would blame Martin for often deferring to explosive teammates such as Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, he believes he has more to offer than his 11.7 ppg scoring average of 2008-09.
After all, this is the same guy who averaged 16.7 points and made the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 2004. This is the same guy who averaged 18.9 points and monopolized the college player of the year awards as a senior at Cincinnati.
Granted, those memorable seasons came before Martin had microfracture surgery on both knees 18 months apart, but the ever-confident K-Mart is ready to re-establish himself as a more consistent offensive threat in 2009-10.
With his weight down about 10 pounds and the aches and pains virtually non-existent, Martin was able to begin his offseason training earlier than he has since the summer leading up to his first season in Denver five years ago.
“I was able to work on the things that I felt I got away from – me being more aggressive on the offensive end instead of me being passive,” Martin said. “I’m not saying I’m going to go out and average 25 (points), but I’m not a 12-point-a-game scorer. I can play this game. I’ve proven that. I know that, and I’m going to put that on the floor every night.’’
Martin wants to re-establish the turnaround jump shot that was effective for him in college and during his first four years with the New Jersey Nets. Nuggets coach George Karl also would like to see him get more second-chance points; Martin’s 81 offensive rebounds were the fewest he’s grabbed in a full NBA season.
“He’s put in more (time) on his jump shot and more on his offensive decisions,” Karl said. “He’s got some great quickness and he’s got some great leaps. I think you’ll see him focus on being more often an offensive rebounder.”
Martin, one of the most tenacious and versatile defenders in the NBA, insists that being more aggressive on offense won’t compromise his defensive focus.
“It’s about me getting better as a player to help this team,” Martin said “I still can be aggressive and my numbers – rebounding, points and all that – can be better.
“I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel. I’m not trying to come out and develop a mean crossover. No. That ain’t me. I’m going to go out and do the stuff that got me here.”
The Nuggets, the sixth-highest-scoring team in the NBA last season, don’t necessarily need another offensive threat, but it never hurts to have a more balanced attack that ultimately creates more opportunities for Anthony, Smith, Nene and point guard Chauncey Billups.
“The more we pass the ball and the (offensive) distribution is equal, we’re going to be more difficult to defend and more difficult to figure out,” Karl said.
If Martin can help balance Denver’s offensive equation, it might lead him to his ultimate career goal: a championship ring.
Entering his 10th season, Martin went to the NBA Finals twice with New Jersey, only to come up short against the Los Angeles Lakers (2002) and San Antonio Spurs (2003). He nearly returned again last spring, but the Nuggets fell to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
“It’s why you come in and work,” Martin said. “It’s a team sport. I’m pretty sure if you lined guys up and let ‘em play one-on-one out here for an NBA championship, I’d have one by now.
“I’ve always put my best foot forward to try to attain it, but it hasn’t went that way so far. I was on the doorstep last year, but things happen. Just got to keep working.”