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2019-20 Season Preview: Cody Martin

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The former Nevada wing has the versatility that makes him stand out from the pack.

2019 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A lot of Charlotte Hornets fans were distraught when the team selected Cody Martin 36th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. Players like Daniel Gafford and Bol Bol were still on the board, and many people believed the Hornets should’ve filled their need for a backup center with that pick.

There was also a group of Hornets fans who thought the team was going in a complete 180 selecting Martin this high. They believed that the organization should’ve been drafting based off potential, as opposed to one who isn’t elite at one thing but’s capable of doing a lot. Martin was never seen as a dominating, opposing force on the court in college. He was always that guy, a cog in the system, not the engineer of one.

Through his four seasons spent between NC State and Nevada, Martin averaged 12 points, 4.5 rebounds and nearly 5 assists per contest. The furthest his team reached in the postseason was in 2018 when his Nevada squad lost a heartbreaker to the Cinderella team of Loyola-Chicago.

Unfortunately, Cody Martin’s play and value have been overshadowed by one constant narrative.

His twin brother, Caleb, also played at both NC State and Nevada with Cody, and the two have become a staple together. Interestingly enough, the Hornets signed Caleb to both a Summer League deal in July and a training camp contract coming up. These two have been inseparable for the most part, with consistent questions as to who’s the better of the two?

This sibling rivalry and unionization has limited Cody in making a name for himself. He’s always been compared to his brother and never has had the chance to prove his talent on an individual level.

What Cody does posses on the court is an array of skills that make him a positionless player out on the wing.

Ball handling has been Martin’s calling card for years now. This trait allows him to play either guard position with relative success. He has a well-developed IQ of the game which has helped him dish out assists to teammates from virtually anywhere in the half court. He’s capable of having an offense run through him at times. Having orchestrating ability is key in running the Hornets second unit of shooters.

Luckily, the 23-year-old’s abilities on the court go beyond passing the basketball.

Martin is capable of playing positions one through three. He defends at an exceptional level, earning team All-Defense for the Mountain West Conference last year. His 205 pound frame at his height makes it a real problem for any offensive player to get by him on the perimeter.

He’s got great lateral quickness which allows him to become a key defender on switch scenarios. This knack of defensive intensity has lead to a great number of steal opportunities, an area where he finished first in his conference last year.

The biggest blemish in Martin’s game is his shooting. Throughout his collegiate level, Martin was never able to hit from three at a consistent rate. During his breakout junior season at Nevada, he shot a bleak 29 percent from downtown. His jump shot even looks unconventional.

This should be the biggest point of emphasis for Martin’s development this season. He needs to be able to consistently hit shots from downtown if he wants to grow into a role with the Hornets. Doing so would also make him a better facilitator as defenders would respect his outside shot, leading to more cutting opportunities by his teammates.

That being said, the Hornets may look to “hide” Martin’s three-point deficiency early in the season.

By pairing him up with players who can shoot but lack any play making ability, Martin can become the main distributor for that group. Look to see guys like Terry Rozier and Malik Monk share the floor with Martin as he’ll be able to get these players good shots.

If utilized correctly, Cody Martin can contribute the way Evan Turner has in his career. He comes in with a wide variety of skills that can ultimately change the dynamic of the team’s second unit. You won’t see him spray it from downtown, but the team’s offensive output should be well-tuned when he’s out there on the court.