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Cody Martin is the Hornets’ defensive light at the end of the tunnel

The Hornets need to mimic Cody Martin’s defensive intensity if they want to flourish this season

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The development of Charlotte Hornets forward Cody Martin has been nothing short of incredible this season. He’s averaging 7.7 points a night, grabbing 4.1 rebounds, and shooting a remarkable 47.6 percent from three-point land. Despite all this, the best part about his progression has been his ability to make an impact on the defensive side of the floor.

This Hornets team is awful on defense. They rank in the bottom-10 in almost all defensive metrics, including opponent’s points per game (29th) and defensive rating (27th). However, Martin has been the light at the end of the tunnel on that end.

Charlotte is coming off of a brutal loss to the Chicago Bulls in which they allowed a staggering 133 points. Martin did not play in that game, and during his postgame interview, head coach James Borrego praised the young wing for his importance. Without him, it’s clear that Charlotte’s defensive problems are only accentuated.

“We need Cody [Martin] to be our best defensive guy.”

So far this year, Martin is averaging 1.3 steals and 0.5 blocks per game, which are both career-highs. However, his counting stats don’t fully display the work he is putting in on a nightly basis. So far this season, Martin has consistently drawn the most important defensive assignment on the opposing team.

His list of matchups is pretty ridiculous this season. Here are the top six matchups (in terms of minutes guarded) he’s been assigned to this year and what they shot while Martin was guarding them

  • Bradley Beal, 8:54 over two games - 2-8 FG, 1-5 3PT
  • Stephen Curry, 6:42 over two games - 4-7 FG, 2-4 3PT
  • Collin Sexton, 4:54 over two games - 1-4 FG, 1-3 3PT
  • Terrence Ross, 4:35 over one game - 1-3 FG, 1-2 3PT
  • Malcolm Brogdon, 4:50 over two games - 1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT
  • James Harden, 4:22 over one game - 1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT

If the only outlier on a defensive resume is Stephen Curry, then that player is probably doing something right. (Especially considering Curry is shooting a higher three-point percentage when contested than when open this season, which is absurd.)

Martin has been clamping up some of the best scorers in the league. The intensity with which he defends the perimeter is nothing short of incredible. Curry may be the only stain on his list of matchups, but this play alone should make up for it. Martin just never gives up.

The Hornets need to mimic Martin on that end of the floor because if they don’t, this season could take a turn for the worst real soon. The losing streak they went on earlier this season was due to their offense going cold. There’s no backup plan for when that happens because as of now, the defense won’t be able to do anything about it.

Charlotte is all offense, all the time. Martin has been one of the stars on the defensive end, and the Hornets need that from him desperately. He’ll always have a spot in the rotation because of it. Hopefully, his teammates can follow suit fairly soon.