How K-Mart Fits Coming Back To The Knicks

By Brian Faith, Knicks Fan Since ‘93

The Knicks' re-signing of Kenyon Martin should help solidify their interior defense. A healthy Tyson Chandler will be the main man patrolling the paint, and adding Martin for a full season should help ease the burden on the All-Star center.

After signing a pair of 10-day contracts last spring, K-Mart will be with the Knicks for the full 82 this time around. He brings another veteran presence, tough defense, and most importantly, rebounding to the Knicks rotation. The Knicks' signing of Metta World Peace will allow Martin to stay home near the paint, where he has always made it tough for opponents trying to score from the post.

Let’s take a look at the impact K-Mart had on the Knicks rebounding and defense last season, and what we can expect in 2013-14. All stats courtesy of NBA.com/stats.

K-Mart’s Rebounding

Kenyon Martin’s biggest contribution to the Knicks last year was his rebounding. With injuries decimating the expected front line of Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas, the K-Mart midseason pick up was essential for the Knicks. His contributions for this particular Knicks team cannot be overstated.

In his 18 regular season games K-Mart hauled in 7.9 rebounds per 36 minutes, good for second on the team behind only Tyson Chandler among regular contributors. That number held steady at 7.7 rebounds per 36 minutes in the Knicks' 12 playoff contests. His defensive rebounding rate (percentage of available defensive rebounds he came down with), was a solid 17.9% -- Chandler was at 24.4% -- during the regular season. In the playoffs that figure shot up to 19.2%, second to only Iman Shumpert’s impressive 20.7% among playoff regulars.

K-Mart on Defense

Martin immediately improved the Knicks' defense when he arrived in late February. Prior to the All-Star break the Knicks had a defensive rating (opponent points per 100 possessions) of 103.0. This figure climbed to 104.3 after the All-Star break, but it wasn’t because of Martin. K-Mart played 431 minutes in his 18 regular season games and during his time on the floor the Knicks defensive rating was only 101.4. If that figure held for the entire season the Knicks would have had a top ten defense to go along with their third-ranked offense.

In fact, while Martin was on the floor, the Knicks' offensive efficiency also got better, with Martin having the second-best Net Rating of any Knicks player after the All-Star break.

Player                     Off Rtg      Def Rtg        Net Rtg

Pablo Prigioni      111.6          103.1            +8.5

Kenyon Martin     109.8        101.4            +8.4

K-Mart’s specialty has always been low post defense. He still has the quickness and agility to step out to contest jumpers, but the low block is where he leaves his mark. His versatility allowed the Knicks to continue to play small ball with Carmelo Anthony playing power forward while Martin defended the best low post player on the opposing team.

2013-14 Expectations

Expect Martin to play a big role in the Knicks' rotation this season. While his minutes and workload will have to be monitored throughout the grueling 82-game season, Coach Woodson will be able to rely on Martin’s rebounding and defense every time he steps foot on the court.

Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace add some much-needed depth to the Knicks' front court rotation, something that Martin will surely benefit from. He will be able to stay at home on defense and will often be in excellent position to snare defensive rebounds. His overall rebounding numbers may not have a lot of room to improve, but expect his rebounding rate to climb this season.

On defense, expect Martin to continue battling power forwards and centers on the block. His toughness and veteran know-how will help solidify the front court rotation, and hopefully help keep Chandler fresh all season. His presence on the second unit with Bargnani will allow the Italian big man to step out on the perimeter on offense while avoiding having to guard the opponent’s best low post scorer. Much like World Peace will allow Anthony the freedom to concentrate on the offensive end, Martin will do the same for Bargnani.

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images