(First, I'd like to welcome our Sci-Fi junkies who saw the title of this post and immediately jumped on it. Apologies if you weren't looking for a basketball blog. If you look).
Compared to his fellow NBA guards, Kevin Martin doesn't pass the ball very much. It was a little shocking to see him pile up seven assists against the Denver Nuggets last week, as he only average 2.4 assists per game. You could make the argument that this is a bad thing, but given Martin's jaw-dropping efficiency on offense, I can't complain. His strengths lie in his ability to score and he makes good on those strengths as effectively as anyone.
This is nothing new to those who have simply watched Martin play, but for kicks, Basketball-Reference's Neil Paine decided to crunch the numbers to find out who, among NBA guards who play 30 minutes per game or more, passes the very least. To nobody's surprise, Nick Young comes in first with a pass percentage of 27.4% -- in other words, upon possessing the ball, he chooses to pass to a teammate only 27.4 percent of the time.
Kevin Martin finishes fifth on the list with a pass percentage of 36.4%. Ahead of him are Jason Richardson, DeMar DeRozan and Anthony Morrow, each separated by merely one-tenth of a percentage point. A few spots below Martin lies Dwyane Wade, whose assist rate has fallen quite a bit with the additions of Chris Bosh and LeBron James.
Most interestingly, Martin stands out on the list of guards as the most prominent option to possess such a low pass percentage. He receives 1.22 touches per minute, which is far more than anyone else on the list until Wade's name appears. Thus, it can be inferred that, among first-option guards, Kevin Martin passes the very least and by a considerable margin. To me, it's a little ironic that a team whose offense is fueled by crisp ball movement and high assist numbers possess a first option who can be easily labeled as a "black hole."
Then again, if you look down near the bottom of the list, Kyle Lowry's name pops up. According to Paine's numbers, Lowry passes the ball 72 percent of the time. A good chunk of those passes surely end up in Martin's hands, as Martin's numbers have risen while playing alongside Lowry. Ideally, this is what you want: the point guard passes, and the shooting guard shoots.
Not many teams do it this way anymore given the boatload of point guard talent that has infiltrated the league. Sure, scoring point guards and versatile, pass-happy shooting guards can have value. Aaron Brooks played well next to Martin and can certainly bring a lot to the table. But Lowry and Martin have thrived in the old school approach and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Like I said before, it's all about playing to strengths. Lowry passes, Martin shoots and the Rockets are better for it.