Steph Curry, you may be seated.
Through 25 games the NBA’s best 3-point shooter is Cody Martin who enters tonight’s game drilling a scorching 50.0% from downtown. After hitting 34-of-135 (25.1%) of his 3-point attempts over his first two seasons, the Hornets third-year wing has unexpectedly hit 27-of-54 attempts this year.
Talk about a stunning development.
Martin’s calling card has always been his defense. At the Hive’s Jack Simone recently profiled Cody’s defensive chops and how he has locked down some of the league’s best perimeter scorers. While those of us who follow the Hornets have always appreciated Martin’s defense, he was viewed as a massive offensive liability coming into this season. Last year the 6-foot-6 wing played at least 18 minutes in 22 different games and scored five points or less in 12 of them. His Per-36 minute scoring average was an anemic 8.8 points and he shot just 27.6% from the 3-point line.
Before this season the Hornets could count on Martin’s defense. Any points he scored were gravy.
So how has a once ice-cold shooter supplanted Steph Curry as the best distance marksman on the planet?
First, Martin’s learning to create his own shots. In his rookie season 94.4% of his made 3-pointers were assisted, meaning his teammates where finding him when he was open for a relatively clean look. Last year Martin’s percentage of assisted 3s dropped to 87.5%. This year it’s down to 85.2%, meaning he’s doing more with the ball in his hands. By way of comparison, Kelly Oubre Jr has been assisted on 92.4% of his 3s this year, Terry Rozier’s at 85.7%, and Gordon Hayward’s at 83.0%. Cody Martin no longer needs to be left wide open and have a teammate find him for an open 3.
Second, Cody’s cooking in the corners. Just look at his very modern shot chart:
Today’s analytics-driven NBA emphasizes corner 3s and shots at the rim. Martin is shooting both high volume and high efficiency from the left and right corners. Credit also needs to go to coach James Borrego for scheming Martin to get good looks on these shots. Now, the ice-cold blue dots around the rim needs to clearly improve, but let’s take things one step at a time.
Lastly, and this one’s hard to quantify, but this year Cody Martin is playing consistent minutes on a nightly basis with a clearly defined role. I think it’s important for shooters to have continuity to get into a good rhythm. His minutes have been somewhere in the 20s for most games this season after getting yo-yoed around in the past. Last year there was a stretch in April where his minutes over nine consecutive games were 15, 12, 8, 20, 7, 35, 38, 24, and 18. It’s hard to find rhythm not knowing what your role will be on any given night, and this year Cody has found his rhythm.
Now, at some point Martin will cool off. He’s not going to shoot 50% from the 3-point line all season and 54 attempts is a very small sample size. He won’t be a better shooter than Steph Curry - the greatest shooter in the history of the world - over the course of an entire season, but he is today so let’s have some fun with it.
Right now, Cody Martin is the league’s most accurate 3-point shooter.
What a surprisingly wonderful development.