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2020-21 Hornets season preview: Caleb Martin

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The undrafted Martin twin became a key cog in the Hornets rotation last season, but his path to playing time is murkier this season.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Martin went undrafted out of Nevada last season after his brother Cody Martin was selected early in the second round by the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets then brought Caleb in on a camp deal, where he impressed enough to climb onto the roster. He spent most of the season in the G League, where he led the Swarm regulars in scoring. He ended up getting minutes with the Hornets late in the season and shot a blistering 62.1% from three in ten games after the All Star break.

Lineups that featured both Caleb and Cody limited opponents to 101.3 points per 100 possessions, which ranked in the 98th percentile among qualified lineups, according to Cleaning the Glass. Those lineups struggled to score, which isn’t all that surprising considering they frequently featured three rookies on the floor at the same time, but their energy and defensive intensity was effective and exciting to watch.

The return of Malik Monk from his suspension and the acquisition of Gordon Hayward makes Caleb’s road to playing a lot murkier than it was nine months ago. Hayward will obviously start and hoard the lion’s share of minutes on the wing, and third overall pick LaMelo Ball is likely to steal minutes at all of the back court positions. Malik Monk and his own brother Cody are probably Caleb’s most direct competition for minutes, as Miles Bridges will probably spend more minutes at the four this season backing up PJ Washington.

Caleb and Cody are somewhat interchangeable depending on the what the Hornets need on a given night. Both play terrific defense, though Cody seems to a bit more even keeled and reliable on that end. Caleb is more of a bucket getter that could get his name called when the Hornets are struggling to score, while Cody is more of a connector that fits more seamlessly with other high volume scorers on the floor.

Where things get interesting is the competition between Caleb and Malik Monk. Monk is certainly billed as the more talented player, and he had a few explosive games before he was suspended by the league in February. But that run of play came during a stretch of the season where the Hornets were getting blown repeatedly. After Caleb took Monk’s minutes, the Hornets instantly became more competitive. That correlation can’t be deemed causative at this point, but Hornets brass may be very drawn to a bench mob that includes Caleb Martin to help stifle opposing offenses while the Hornets best scorers need a breather.