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Getting to know the Hornets draft picks: Cody Martin

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The Hornets shocked the world with the selection of Cody Martin 36th overall.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets-Press Conference Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he was a second round pick of the Charlotte Hornets, Cody Martin is already pretty well known around these parts. He and his twin brother Caleb grew up in Mocksville, North Carolina. After spending their first three high school seasons at Davie County High School in Mocksville, they transferred to high school powerhouse Oak Hill Academy for their senior seasons.

The twins chose to stay close to home for college, electing to attend North Carolina State. After two seasons of so-so playing time, they transferred farther away from home to finish their collegiate careers at Nevada. Something about those wolf packs.

Neither of the twins were originally invited to the NBA Combine after their senior years in college, but they were invited to the G League Elite Camp. There, Cody Martin was impressive enough to earn himself an invite to the NBA Combine the following week. Caleb, unfortunately was not.

This is where their paths diverge. Caleb was the more aggressive player and better scorer in college, but NBA teams value Cody’s more measured approach and defensive mindset. Even still, Cody wasn’t expected to get drafted, but the Hornets liked him enough to use the 36th overall pick on him.

There’s a downside to Martin’s winding road through college. He’s old. Like, really old. He’ll be 24 years old when next season tips off, roughly the same age as Dwayne Bacon. The hope is that with that age comes the physical and mental maturity that will allow Martin to contribute right away.

Cody Martin is a stat sheet stuffer. In his final collegiate season, Martin averaged 12.1 points, 4.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game while functioning as a 6’6” lead guard for Head Coach Eric Musselman’s Wolf Pack. His versatile skill set fits right in with what the Hornets have been trying to do with their recent draft picks.

Martin is a steady offensive force. Like I said above, his brother Caleb was the more prolific scorer, but Cody was the much better game manager of the two. He’s a very good passer for his size and is an underrated ball handler. General Manager Mitch Kupchak said at the rookies’ introductory press conference that he sees Martin as a ball handling guard, even though Martin has been listed as a forward for most of the pre-draft process.

Martin’s shot is a work in progress, but it’s miles better than it was when he arrived at NC State back in 2014. As a freshman, he attempted only seven 3-pointers in 216 minutes and didn’t hit a single one. As a senior, he attempted 95 3-pointers (2.8 per game) and hit 35.8% of those attempts, with a lot of them coming off the dribble. His free throw percentage improved from 52.9% to 76.3% in that same time span.

Martin brings a two way presence to a Hornets back court that’s been sorely lacking defense for several seasons now. His defensive production dipped a bit as a senior, but Martin won the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Award as a junior. I don’t know a lot about the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Award, but anytime a wing wins that kind of award, it’s worth noting. Those are usually reserved for rim protecting centers.

Cody Martin was anything but a sexy pick at 36 overall. Many people have said that he could have been available at 52, or even as an undrafted free agent. But Cam Johnson went 11th and Bol Bol went 44th. You never know what’s actually going to happen in the draft. The Hornets wanted Martin, so they wanted to make sure they got him. The appeal is obvious. Martin is a big, tough guard that should be able to fill a number of spots in the Hornets lineup. He’s like Michael Carter-Williams if MCW could dribble, pass, shoot, and defend without fouling.

Maybe that’s not the best line to end it with. Cody Martin should be a solid performer for the Hornets, and his maturity should allow him to contribute right out of the gate. That’s better.