Caleb Martin Adapts to Newer Role in First Full-Time NBA Season

by Sam Perley

Combo guard Caleb Martin was asked to do some different things for the Hornets this past season, but overall, continued to serve as an all-around utility player and bench depth in his first full NBA campaign.

Across 53 appearances – three of which were starts, Martin averaged 5.0 points on 37.5% shooting, 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.7 steals in 15.4 minutes. The Nevada product spent 73% of his on-court rookie minutes at shooting guard and 23% at small forward, percentages that flipped to 39% and 56%, respectively, in 2020-21, with some time at the four (4%) as well.

“My role is going to fluctuate with minutes and opportunities,” said Martin. “I think it was a good learning experience for me. It gave me an overall better feel for the game for somebody in my position. It’s definitely something to grow off of. As a team having a full season and getting to the point that we did, I think there’s a lot of things we can pinpoint to focus on for next season where it’ll allow us to get over those hurdles. It’s definitely nothing but up.”

Playing slightly more off the ball, the most glaring hole in Martin’s game this season was his three-point shooting – he converted just 24.8% of his attempts (31-of-125) after hitting 54.1% in 2019-20 (20-of-37). He did shoot more often (nine total attempts to 32) and better from the mid-range (22.2% to 43.8%) as well as in the restricted area, a zone where his efficiency rose from 40% (14-of-35) to 54.9% (45-of-82).

“For me, I think a lot of it was mental,” he stated. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to go out there and knock down every single shot. The best way to play is free and confident. Having a next-play mentality is the best way I can put it. I have to work on getting better at that and not putting so much pressure into every shot or little thing that I do. That’s just part of the game. Learning from that and being able to implement it next year will help a lot.”

Martin notched a season-high 17 points on two occasions this year: April 13 against the Lakers and May 4 in Detroit, with the former outing including a career-high 10 rebounds for his first NBA double-double. Like his brother and teammate Cody, Caleb was entrusted with more defensive responsibility this year, particularly with the addition of more offensive creators.

“I feel like I’ve always had the tools to [defend],” he said. “Over time, just being able to get game reps, guard different guys and actions and put myself against different guys my size, I noticed I could be a factor defensively.”

The now 25-year-old will be under team control through the 2021-22 campaign and should remain a multi-purpose depth option for the time being. “It was a weird, definitely different season with the crunched schedule and a lot of back-to-backs,” he said. “[We want to] carry on that excitement and passion that we played with night in and night out. We want to carry on that team chemistry and joy to play with each other. I don’t think that will be problem.”

  • 39% SG, 56% SF, 4% PF
  • Rookie: 73% SG, 23% SF (nothing else)
  • Mid-range improved from 22.2% (2/9), to 43.8% (14/32)
  • Restricted area from 40.0% (14/35) to 54.9% (45/82)

“Carry on that excitement and passion that we played with night in and night out. It was a weird, definitely different season with the crunched schedule and a lot of back-to-backs. Guys were fatigued playing a lot of minutes. Obviously, it’s a given guys are going to be tired and performances aren’t going to be as high as we want them to be. We want to carry on that team chemistry and joy to play with each other. I don’t think that will be problem.

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