A revamped, more relaxed approach made a significant difference in combo guard Cody Martin’s all-around game this season, as he became one of the Hornets’ most impactful players on both ends of the court.
Over 71 appearances and 11 starts, Martin averaged career highs across the board in scoring (7.7 points), rebounding (4.0), assists (2.5), steals (1.2), blocks (0.5), field-goal percentage (48.2%), 3-point percentage (38.4%), free-throw percentage (70.1%) and minutes played (26.3). The North Carolina native was only a 43.5% shooter over his first two years in the league, including just 25.2% from deep and 62% at the line.
“I really worked a lot on my shot [last] summer,” said Martin during exit interviews. “I think that [I was] hindered a little bit prior because I was so focused on the results and percentages. I really put a lot of pressure on myself to make almost every shot I put up because I knew I didn’t get that many. Offensively, I’ll be more aggressive some nights because we need a little extra and some nights, we don’t need it. Sometimes, the best offense is just to make sure other guys get the ball and their rhythm gets going.”
Regarded as one of the team’s better wing defenders who can guard multiple positions, Martin scored in double figures 23 times this season after previously doing so just nine total times over his first two years. He also had five 15-point games, a threshold he previously hadn’t reached even once before. Defensively, he finished tied for sixth in the NBA in charges drawn (19) – more than the rest of the Charlotte roster combined – and had a career-high 165 deflections.
Another major storyline coming into the season for Martin was that this was going to be the first time that he and his twin brother Caleb – now with the Miami Heat – had not been on the same team in quite some time.
“It was weird at first,” he recalled. “I think the biggest difference was more off the court than on the court. I think it helped us blossom on our own. There’s definitely more growth that’s still there. We still call each other pretty much every day, so none of that has really changed in terms of having that support system. I think overall, it’s helped our games tremendously with figuring out ways to individually grow instead of being compared the entire time.”
Martin also echoed many of his teammates about needing to improve a Hornets’ defense that finished the season ranked 22nd in the NBA in efficiency. “I think the biggest thing is just being in the right spots at the right time. Defense is not easy and guarding people in this league is not easy. Ultimately, that’s the next step we need to take in order to win more consistently and make us a tougher team to beat than we already are.”
He added, “Our offense isn’t an issue. We can really score and shoot the ball. The defensive step is next and something we can take a lot of pride in. That’s what really, really good teams do is even when they’re not making shots, they’re defending at a high level. We can and will be a good defense. We just need to take pride in that night in and night out.”
Martin will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer, another topic he touched on during exit interviews. “I love Charlotte. They gave my brother and I a chance. I’m from right down the street. I love being here, the city, the fans, the organization, my teammates. The biggest thing for me right now is taking some time to step away from basketball to regroup and take a break mentally. I’m excited for the offseason, the summer and moving forward. I want to be a part of this and improve as a player overall.”
Having made major progress with his perimeter shooting, Martin has become an important 3-and-D option for the Hornets. The future is certainly bright for this Charlotte team and even more so with players like Martin possibly in the fold.
“Obviously, we didn’t go out exactly like how we wanted to, but overall and collectively, we improved and are moving in the right direction,” he said. “There were a lot of positives throughout the season that we can take away from. I think it’s always important to have consistency and chemistry. Figure out ways to get better overall so next year, we’re not in a position like this. That’s the end goal right now – just make sure we improve in all aspects of our game on and off the court.”