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Trending Hornets: Cody Martin started figuring things out in Year 3

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

The Trending Hornets series evaluates the career trajectories of Charlotte’s players based on two advanced stats - Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) - as provided by Basketball Reference.

PER measures per-minute production standardized such as the league average is 15. A PER above 15 means a player contributed above league average. As a frame of reference, among last season’s PER leaders, the Top 20 players were 21.8 and higher while Nos. 21-40 ranged from 18.9 to 21.6.

VORP is a box score estimate of the points per 100 team possessions that a player contributed above a replacement level player. A VORP of 1.2 means the team was 1.2 points better off per 100 possessions with this player on the floor versus a league average player. Among last season’s VORP leaders, the Top 20 were 3.5 and higher and Nos. 21-40 ranged from 2.2 to 3.4.

This week we’ll look at the trajectory of Cody Martin.

Mick Smiley, At the Hive

2021-22 results and league ranks

PER: 12.7; ranked T-132nd overall

VORP: 0.7; ranked T-152nd overall

Career trend overview

Cody Martin is one of the true success stories from former coach James Borrego’s tenure in Charlotte. Martin was drafted in the second round, No. 36 overall, in the 2019 draft. The 6-foot-5 small forward has always been a good wing defender and overall hustler, but his upside was capped by his limited offensive game.

In 48 games as a rookie he averaged just 5.0 points in 18.8 minutes per game and shot just 23.4% from the 3-point line. In his second season he scored just 4.0 points in 16.3 minutes per game and still shot poorly from downtown, hitting just 27.6% of his 3-pointers. Then last year, his third NBA season, Martin still didn’t score much (just 7.7 points in 26.3 minutes per game) but his 3-point shooting took a huge step forward. Last year he somehow hit 38.4% of his 3-pointers on 2.2 attempts per game.

From an advanced stats perspective, Cody Martin’s Year 1 and Year 2 outputs were largely consistent with each other and pretty standard for a second round pick. His PER of 10.5 and 10.6, respectively, were below the league average of 15 and his VORP of zero in each of his first two seasons placed him on par with a standard replacement player. Again, that’s just fine for a young second rounder.

But last Cody took a meaningful step forward. His PER of 12.7 was noticeably better than his first two seasons of just above 10, and his 0.7 VORP was actually better than Gordon Hayward (0.5), Montrezl Harrell (0.5), and Kelly Oubre Jr. (0.3).

To underscore what a good contributor Martin has been when compared to his draft position (No. 36 overall), let’s compare his performance to those of other second rounders. Among 32 second round picks, Cody ranks second in games played, second in minutes played, second in total assists, third in total rebounds, and fifth in points scored.

What this means for the Hornets

Charlotte found a solid bench contributor in the second round who has demonstrated the ability to improve early in his career. If Cody can keep hitting 3-pointers and a respectable clip, the combination of his solid perimeter defense and now decent perimeter shooting make him the type of 3-and-D wing every team covets.

There’s a reason the Hornets recently extended him on a 4-year, $32 million contract. Frankly, that’s a great value for Charlotte and a contract that should age nicely over the next couple of years, assuming Martin doesn’t revert back to becoming a complete offensive liability.

The Hornets are committed to their young small forward and it’s understandable as to why. While Martin’s upside is likely capped as a key reserve, his particular skill set will always have value in today’s NBA.

Cody Martin is a true draft-and-develop success story for the Hornets that should provide affordable stability and consistency for years to come.