Versatility, Flexibility and Adaptability? Rookie Cody Martin Fits the Mold
Never before has the NBA landscape been more welcoming to position-less players with all-around skillsets and ample experience. And that’s what makes the Hornets’ early second-round selection this past June of combo guard Cody Martin such a promising one.
It’s been quite a long road for Martin, who grew up about an hour north of his new NBA base in Mocksville, NC. From Davie County High School, to prep powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, then N.C. State and finally the University of Nevada, the soon-to-be 24-year-old has been utilized in a variety of different roles throughout his career.
“It’s kind of open,” Martin said in an interview with Hornets.com when asked about his fit at the next level. “Honestly, I see myself as a point guard, but I’m big enough and skilled enough to play multiple positions. It’s basically whatever my team needs.”
Flash back to 15 months ago, and Martin was declaring for the draft and accepting a prized invitation to the NBA Combine. He ultimately decided to return to school for his senior season, one that ended with a third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance for the Wolf Pack.
“A lot of the [feedback I got] was just work on my body and get a more consistent shot. Working on my three-ball and making sure that I’m able to translate that,” said Martin, who shot 51.1% over his two years at Nevada and increased his three-point percentage from 29.4% to 35.8% and free-throw efficiency from 70.1% to 76.3% between his junior and senior seasons.
Despite being named All-Mountain West for the second time in a row, Martin wasn’t initially invited back to the NBA Combine, but instead had to earn his way to the Chicago showcase through the G League Elite Camp. In total, only four players who were forced to take this particular route ended up getting drafted this past June, none higher than Martin at no. 36.
“When I didn’t get a combine invite this year, I knew it was a possibility,” he said. “I went into [the G League Camp] and played with a lot of confidence, shot the ball when I had open shots, made plays, played defense – things that I do all the time. [Teams] saw my game and how it would translate, so I got invited to the NBA Combine and that really helped me out a lot.”
As stated, Martin’s primary position at the next level is up in the air as he’s proficient enough to line up anywhere from point guard to even small forward. He led Nevada in assists (4.9) and steals (1.4) last season, clocked the third-fastest lane agility time at the combine (10.44 seconds) and is a defensive mismatch at both guard spots thanks to a stretchy 6’10 ¼” wingspan.
Alas, that’s the beauty of Martin’s game – he can do a lot of different things. As is the case with any rookie regardless of where he’s selected, seasoning is going to require patience, especially with more experienced wing players currently penciled in front of Martin on the Charlotte depth chart. That will probably mean some G League action in Greensboro, a city conveniently located less than an hour west of his hometown.
“Obviously, I love my family, but I’m there to work and improve my game, so I don’t have to go back down and stay in the G League,” Martin stated. “[I want] to play up here and contribute in ways that I know that I can. If I do end up going, then I’m going to go there and play, improve my game and work on things I need to work on. It’s just another opportunity to play with those guys, be close to home and have that kind of support at the same time.”
They are indeed two different players, but Martin’s story can’t be told without recognizing his identical twin brother, Caleb, who is currently signed to a training camp deal with the Hornets. Cody’s path to the NBA is a bit more solidified at the moment, but that hasn’t deterred the pair from losing sight of the overall big picture.
“It was a little weird at first because it’s one of those situations that ended up just working out,” Cody said. “We’re both blessed and fortunate enough to be here at the same time. I know a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to be here, so for both of us to be here is a blessing.’
Martin is still a bit unsure about what his individual goals will be for the upcoming season. As for what he wants the Hornets to accomplish, that objective is fairly straightforward.
“It’s pretty easy. Just win. It doesn’t matter what team I’m on. That’s the goal that I always have. Just work and work and work to improve not only individually, but as a team. We do have a young group of guys, but it’s going to give us an opportunity to show people what’s to come and how we can improve as individual players and as a team.”