The NBA’s hiatus and restart has altered the path for many players in one direction or another, and you can count Brooklyn’s Jeremiah Martin into that group.
Signed to a two-way contract by the Nets in January, the rookie guard appeared in just three games for Brooklyn over the next two months, playing primarily in the G League for Long Island, where he averaged 16.8 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.3 steals in 16 games.
But with the NBA ramping back up in Orlando, Martin is locked in with Brooklyn through the remainder of the season, including the playoffs, for which two-way players have been declared eligible, unlike a regular NBA calendar in which only the full 15-man roster was eligible for the postseason.
“I’m just doing something that I’ve always wanted to do,” said Martin. “It’s just a great opportunity. I’m in the bubble, first time it ever happened first time in history. Probably gonna play against some great players and great teams. Just a great opportunity. I can’t look back. Definitely if I wasn’t here, I’d be wanting to be here. I got the opportunity to be a part of it so I’m gonna take full advantage of it.”
Brooklyn’s unsettled roster situation for the restart increased Martin’s opportunity early on. With the Nets adding in four Substitute Players, plus June free agent signee Tyler Johnson, the team had just nine roster players available for practice when they first arrived in Orlando. Head coach Jacque Vaughn highlighted Martin’s effort in those first few days.
“He’s eager to learn when he steps into the gym,” said Vaughn. “His teammates really enjoy being around him. He’s been fearless. He’ll get to the rim with no hesitation. I think overall he can really impact the game defensively, whether that is turning the guy in the backcourt or whether that’s being cagy enough to get steals in the halfcourt. But definitely a guy who’s thirsting for knowledge to get better. Really enjoy him being in the gym.”
“I can bring whatever we need, scoring, defensively, being active, being an energy guy, I can be whatever they need me to be,” said Martin. “I’m just here to do my job, do whatever is asked of me.”
While the Nets have been incorporating some more small-ball, up-tempo concepts with a roster that has become even more guard-oriented, Martin is finding familiar schemes due to the time he spent in the G League. The organization has always emphasized cohesiveness between schemes in Brooklyn and Long Island to make transition for two-way or assigned players seamless.
“Basically the same thing we’ve been doing in Long Island,” said Martin. “We’re just playing basketball. First thing (Vaughn) told us that stuck with me was ‘don’t be scared to make mistakes.’ We’re just playing basketball, man, and just having fun.”
A 6-foot-3 guard, Martin was undrafted out of Memphis after his senior season in 2018-19, after averaging 18.9 points as a junior and 19.7 points as a senior. He and fellow two-way guard Chris Chiozza are both Memphis natives and signed with the Nets a week apart back in January. Chiozza is a year older, but both played for Team Thad, the AAU program founded by former Net Thaddeus Young, who also came out of Memphis.
“We always played together,” said Martin. “We always had a good connection with each other. He knows friends, his friends that I know. We just never were super close, but I feel like we still had that bond because we were from Memphis. And then I got a chance to play with him in Long Island, and ever since then, we’ve just been together. Especially when we’re in Brooklyn or in Long Island, we’re literally everywhere together. We’re riding in the car together to and from practice, spending a lot of time together. Me and him have just built a real close relationship with each other, and it’s gonna go beyond this.”