In the wake of the James Harden trade that saw the Oklahoma City Thunder guard dealt to Houston alongside Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-rounders and a second-rounder (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports), OKC has added key pieces to its current and future NBA Championship aspirations.
Shooting guard Kevin Martin is the centerpiece of the deal in which the Thunder dealt Harden, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Martin brings more to the table than just effective bench play. He has the ability to be a premier player in the league due to his new environment.
While he’s coming off of a somewhat down year in Houston last season in which he missed significant time due to a shoulder injury, a change of scenery—especially to a winning franchise—is a perfect end result.
In Houston, Martin was asked to be a centerpiece of a team without many other consistent scoring options. That won’t be the case in OKC.
The high-tempo offense of the Thunder and the scoring threats of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will more than sufficiently keep the heat off of Martin and allow him to play some of the best basketball of his career.
Without the detriment of double-teams or drawing opposing teams' best defender, Martin will be free to rejuvenate his perimeter game and get his career back on track.
He’s also playing for a contract, as he will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2012-13 NBA season.
The Thunder would be wise to lock him in early before his true ability flashes as a significant role player in their rotation.
Martin’s biggest positive is that he’ll be hungry this season after finally getting out of Houston. He’s not played for a contender during his eight-year NBA career and will finally get that opportunity in his ninth.
That motivation and the thought of playing for a team that perfectly fits his high energy and mentality will do great things for both Martin and the Thunder this season.
Will the Thunder win the title this season? That’s just become possible by bringing in a high-volume scorer like Martin.