New York Knicks Rumors: Why the Knicks must bring back Kenyon Martin


Tyson Chandler.

That is the list of capable defending big men on the Knicks current roster.

After trading often injured and rarely played Marcus Camby (along with Steve Novak and three draft picks) for former top pick Andrea Bargnani, the Knicks basically backed themselves into a corner.

May 16, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kenyon Martin (3) during the third quarter of Game 5 in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 85-75. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The 18th ranked defense can’t possibly go into a season where they are supposed to make a deep playoff run with one defensive big man. Because of this it is imperative the Knicks go after Kenyon Martin or someone of his ilk. Since he is on the market and we all saw him play well last year though, it should be him.

Last year Martin sat out the first 64 games of the NBA season before the Knicks came calling. The Knicks were in desperate need of a big man since Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees were once again shot and Chandler had a bulging disc in his back.

In those 18 games Martin made an immediate impact on the defense. According to the Knicks were three points better defensively per 48 minutes (104.7-107.6) when Martin played. It is true that opposing centers against Martin put up roughly 15 points and 14 rebounds on 56% efg and a 16.0 PER per 48 minutes but this can be partially explained away by the fact that Martin started over half of his games, filling in for Chandler thus playing against the opponents best and potentially bigger centers.

Since the Knicks this season would almost certainly ask Martin to always come off the bench, based on his overall defensive numbers, it is unlikely any backup center could do this to him.

As stated before the Knicks defense last year was poor, partly because they couldn’t defend opposing point guards (still an issue) and for the lack of defensive big men, especially after Rasheed Wallace went down. Bringing Martin back will at least allow the Knicks to solve one of those issues both effectively and cheaply.

Offensively, when Martin stuck to what he did best he was very effective. While he shot 25 percent (5-for-20) from jump shots 15-24 feet away from the hoop (shots he clearly had no business taking) he shot 78.7 percent (48-for-61) in the restricted area. This also made up the vast majority of his shots.

Overall he is not nearly the offensive player Chandler is both as a scorer or helping off the ball but he still is good enough where teams have to keep an eye on him when he is at the hoop. He won’t travel every time he catches the ball or have it go right through his hands like Kendrick Perkins.

Anyone who looks over the Knicks roster can see that the team needs Martin. While they did have the 18th ranked defense overall, when Martin played they would have been the 10th ranked defense, just inside the top ten defense mark needed to make the finals.

With the addition of Metta World Peace also in the mix the Knicks could be much better suited to deal with penetrating players, post players, and perimeter players for much of the season next year. Despite the 11 game sample against elite defenses in the playoffs, the Knicks desperately need to improve defensively and having Martin play center over the likes of Bargnani and Stoudemire gives the team a much better chance at doing so.