Cody Martin has had a bit of an up and down career with the Charlotte Hornets. He was a surprise pick at number 36 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, but he quickly endeared himself to Hornets fans with his effort and defensive intensity. That goodwill was tarnished a bit with a stagnant second season that saw much more muted impact from Martin. He rebounded in a big way for season three and had by far his best season to date.
Martin’s swing skill in the league was always going to be his outside shooting. He was a questionable 3-point shooter entering the league and was complete nonfactor from behind the arc in his first two seasons. He fixed that heading into his third season. He shot 38.4% from three for the season and led the team in that stat for a pretty considerable length of time. He hit several of those shots in high pressure situations, which is emblematic of the renewed confidence he played with this season. He averaged career highs in virtually every statistical category. Coming into this season, his career high for points in a game was 13. He scored more than that in eight separate games this past season.
He didn’t drop off at all defensively in conjunction with the offensive uptick. His 1.7 steals per 36 minutes were second on the team, only behind LaMelo Ball. He drew 19 charges on the season, which was sixth most in the league. There were a number of times, especially early in the season, where he and Ish Smith would spur Hornets runs with defensive stops and fast break buckets.
There is some room for concern with the sustainability of Martin’s success heading into an offseason in which he is a free agent. His success three this past season was very front heavy. He had a stretch of three missed games in late December. From that point until the end of the season, he shot just 29.7% from three, which isn’t substantially better than his career marks. There’s reason to question how much the increase in shooting percentage is sustainable and how much is a result of an unsustainably hot start to the season. Also, for all his individual defensive prowess, the Hornets were quite a bit worse defensively as a team with on the floor this season.
Martin is a restricted free agent this summer and is due a $2.2 million qualifying offer. The Hornets will likely extend that offer and have the right to match any contract Martin agrees to. There probably won’t be a super competitive market for Martin given his restricted status, so the Hornets should have the leverage to work out a moderate deal to keep Martin around as depth on the wing and at guard.
In all, it was a strong third season for Martin, who established himself as a key reserve for the Hornets with a skill set not matched by others on the roster. It seems likely that he’s earned himself a modest multi-year deal to stick around in Charlotte.