MikeCheck: Grizzlies Offseason Outlook – Jarell Martin
MEMPHIS – It wasn’t supposed to go down like this.
But after a tumultuous season that included a controversial early-season coaching change, a rash of injuries, the eventual loss of two top scorers and the longest losing streak in the Memphis era of the franchise, the Grizzlies hit the offseason eager to push the reset button.
They are out of the playoffs for the first time in eight years, and headed toward the May 15 Draft Lottery assured of a top-five pick in the June 21 NBA Draft. So there’s reason to hope. There are also expectations – with catalysts Mike Conley and Marc Gasol still under contract, encouraging development of a few young prospects and the full midlevel exception to use in free agency – that this disappointing season in Memphis was a single bump in the road on a path back to playoff contention.
Over the next few weeks, Grind City Media’s ‘Offseason Outlook’ breaks down my personal analysis as to where the coach, general manager and each player on the Grizzlies’ roster stand in the process.
Player: Jarell Martin, 23
Measurables: 6-10, 239 – 3rd NBA Season
2017-18 Stats:7.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.0apg in 22.7mpg (all career highs), shot 44.6% overall from the field.
Status: Due $2.4 million for 2018-19 salary in final season of a four-year deal.
Scored in double figures 22 times and posted two double-doubles this past season as one of only two remaining players (Conley) on the roster who were the Grizzlies’ own first-round draft picks.
Outside of rookies, arguably no one took a bigger step in improvement over the course of the season than Martin. And that might be an understatement. Martin was among those who barely survived the final round of roster cuts coming out of the preseason. And now, he’s trending toward potentially being one of the best bargains on next season’s roster. Martin’s 79 offensive rebounds and 49 blocks were both second-most on the team. His athleticism stands out and his energy is infectious. He also embraced the difficult challenge to expand his game and shift between his natural power forward spot and small forward. If Martin continues to develop perimeter skills and improve his three-point shooting, there’s a strong chance he could provide valuable depth and versatility moving forward.
It took three seasons and a campaign that completely unraveled for Martin to really show the kind of promise and impact that was expected when he arrived as the No. 25 overall pick in the 2015 draft. Foot injuries, a logjam at the forward spots and an unrefined skillset slowed his path into the rotation. In fact, Martin was on his way to following Jordan Adams and Wade Baldwin out the door as recent first-round picks who failed to pan out here. Were his better numbers this season more a product of increased developmental minutes than major improvement? It’s not likely Martin gets the same 23 minutes a game to show even more progress next season, when he’ll be on an expiring contract. His rate of turnovers and fouls were problematic and due to struggles in stints as a playmaking small forward.
Bottom lineThe good news for Martin is that he’s on a guaranteed contract next season and there’s no rush for the Grizzlies to reach a decision on next steps. At best, he takes another major step forward and emerges as candidate to start at small forward. At worst, he offers rotation insurance and depth if the Grizzlies push to trade veterans JaMychal Green or Chandler Parsons, or clear out a developmental project in Deyonta Davis or Ivan Rabb to make room if another big is added in the upcoming draft. If nothing else, Martin has shown encouraging evidence that he’s a budding NBA player and deserves a little more time, seasoning and development before evaluating minds are completely made up. An offseason dedicated to getting leaner and more versatile will go a long way toward erasing any doubts.
From the beginning to the end, it’s been a long and tough season. But it’s over now, and I’ve just got to prepare for next season. It was definitely different when coach moved me out more on the perimeter. I definitely had to change my game up and develop more, and that was definitely challenging for me this season. That’s something I want to focus on getting even better at this summer.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.