Looming Large: Kevin Martin

At 6'7, 185 lbs, it's hard to take Kevin Martin of the Sacramento Kings seriously when he steps on the court. Martin is tall, yet frail, and he looks like the air conditioning in the arena might blow him over….then he starts to play.

Entering the 2006 season, the Kings shooting guard was considered a solid backup at best, but after averaging 20 points per game last year and currently averaging 23 ppg. this season, Martin has solidified himself as one of the premier offensive threats in the NBA.

Martin's thin frame obviously has its drawbacks. He is a liability on defense, as the Kings are usually forced to be creative with their match ups in order to keep Martin from guarding a physical player. On offense, he has a hard time backing down opponents, and his 6'7 height is typically wasted inside the paint.

Aside from his weight, Martin has little else wrong with him and has done a fine job keeping Sacramento competitive in the ultra competitive Western Conference. At 26-28, the Kings are one of the surprise teams in the league, and while they are a very long shot to make the playoffs, the team's performance this season has been stellar considering that the team is technically in a rebuilding phase. A lot of that is due to emergence of Martin.

His play might be considered a little unorthodox, but Martin has consistently burnt opposing teams this season. He has one the most effective shots in the NBA, and while it isn't the prettiest release, you can't argue with the results. On the season, Martin is shooting 40% from behind the arc and when he gets hot, he's very difficult to stop.

Where Martin is also particularly dangerous is between the arc and the paint. While he is too skinny to post most defenders up, he can certainly knock down a mid-range jump shot when a defender gives him space. Because of his height, he can shoot over most guards and is quick enough to get the edge on more muscular defenders.

Another drawback to Martin's size is his health. With such a fragile body, he gets banged up a lot and his brand of basketball requires optimal health at all times. He has missed 17 games due to injury this season, and had a poor performance (15 points, 1-8 shooting) a few nights ago due to a sprained wrist.

When healthy, Martin can be absolutely deadly, as he has scored over 30 points six times this season, including a 43 point performance over New York in November. The Orlando Magic, who will host the Kings on Sunday will hope to see the dinged up Martin. Last time the two teams met, Martin was injured, and while his wrist might still be bothering him, Martin has the explosiveness to make teams pay.

The Magic will have to face a multitude of talented swing men on Sunday aside from Martin, including Ron Artest, John Salmons and Fransisco Garcia. None however are as important to the Kings as Martin, who is a building block for the franchise. Orlando's guards and forwards will have their hands full, and it will likely be Hedo Turkoglu who draws the assignment on Martin. There isn't much Turkoglu can do to stop Martin is he's feeling it, other than put a hand in his face and don't let him take you off the dribble. Whoever does guard Martin will have the difficult assignment of not letting him be too destructive on offense and Coach Stan Van Gundy must get creative and find mismatches against the frail Martin to get him in foul trouble and mentally rattle him.