Despite being hindered by injuries, Caleb Martin was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year in 2017-18, and he entered his senior season at Nevada as a Preseason All-American selection. The season, however, did not go quite as planned. Martin continued to be hampered by injuries, and his overall production declined slightly. For the most part, his numbers this season – 19.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game – were very similar to the prior season, but his efficiency in terms of field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage dropped significantly. He shot 40.9 percent from the floor, which was down from 45.3 percent, and from deep, he made just 33.8 percent of his shots, after making 40.3 percent in 2017-18.
Martin, who played his first two seasons at North Carolina State, has good size and length for a wing, and he is a solid all-around athlete, who tested well at last year’s NBA Combine. The fifth-year senior has a solid handle, can go right or left, and can finish with either hand. His vertical is not outstanding, but he regularly finishes above the rim. With the ball in his hands, he’s more of a slasher and a glider than he is a jitterbug. He relies a lot on a quick first step, but he makes his share of impressive baskets off step-backs, spins and Euro-steps. Additionally, he takes care of the ball, and is a solid passer.
Though Martin is capable of scoring at all three levels, he is a persistent shooter from deep. More than 74 percent of his half-court shots this season were jumpers, and 92 percent of those were threes. Martin is very effective at shooting on the move, but he tends to take a lot of contested and difficult shots. On the other hand, he doesn’t shrink from the moment, and he can be a cold-blooded killer at times.
Many of the concerns about Martin’s game are related to his three-point shooting. His junior season was the only time that he made more than 36 percent of his 3s, and he has a very unorthodox and noisy shooting motion. On his jumpers, he brings the ball back to the bridge of his nose, and he shoots with a backward lean, while twisting at the hips more than most. As he comes down from his shot, he right leg swings wildly forward in the air, and he lands on one foot (his left) on an angle that is usually perpendicular to the target. His landings are not consistent, are typically awkward, and appear to be a recipe for injury.
A related concern is how many 3-pointers Martin took this season despite the fact that he wasn’t making those shots with the same consistency as the prior season. His percentage of 3-point jumpers in the half-court, compared to all other shots combined, increased by 16 percent over the prior season. He went to the basket less often, and he took far fewer shots from midrange.
Martin’s shot selection this season might have had something to do with the Lisfranc sprain that he initially suffered last season. That left-foot injury was expected to sideline him for weeks, but he played through it and missed only one game. The same injury forced Martin to wear a boot into the summer, and it continued to hamper him well into this season. Recently, when asked about the injury, a source close to the team told me, “I imagine it will be something he has to manage for the rest of his career.” It should be noted that the source was not a medical expert, but it’s not uncommon for Lisfranc injuries to be problematic for a long time.
On defense, Martin’s athleticism and length are big assets, and he also plays with good effort and awareness. Featuring excellent lateral movement, he often plays tight, in-your-face defense even against quality point guards, and he will do so from end to end. Typically, when a player scored against him this season, it was usually by making a tough shot or with help from a screen. Martin also tracks and trails well, takes good angles around picks, and recovers quickly. At Nevada, he often switched, and he did so rather seamlessly, holding up well against both smaller and bigger players.
Martin wasn’t invited to the NBA Combine this year, and many are now speculating that he will not be drafted. He certainly has a number of things going for him, including his length, athleticism, overall scoring prowess, and defensive potential, but his poor shooting mechanics and health concerns may be too much to overcome. If, however, Martin’s foot issues prove not to be a long-term concern, and he can correct his shot, don’t be surprised to see him on an NBA roster at some point.
|Wingspan:||6-10||Vertical:||29 inches (standing) and 36.5 (max)|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
- Good length and athleticism
- Effective scorer from all levels – ranked at the 85th and 91st percentiles, respectively, for points per possession (PPP) this season and last.
- Can score in isolation (79th percentile for PPP this season), and can make jumpers off the bounce (78th percentile for PPP this season).
- Able to handle, distribute, and score in the pick and roll; ranked at the 91st percentile this season for PPP with the results of passes included.
- Solid ball handler and finisher – ranked at the 70th percentile for PPP around the basket this season.
- Capable passer and had a very low turnover rate this season (9.7 percent).
- Good defender – ranked at the 89th percentile for PPP allowed this season.
- Foot injuries – had right-foot surgery in 2014, and was hampered by a lingering left-foot Lisfranc sprain this season.
- Not reliable from deep, and has poor shooting mechanics.
- Average from the free-throw line, and has a herky-jerky motion, with a release that is similar to that of his jumpers.
- Lower ceiling than most due to his age (23)
- Capable from the midrange, including floaters and post-ups, but mostly ignored those parts his game this season.
- Questionable shot selection in general
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology and RealGM.com, and occasionally from Hoop-Math.com and Sports-Reference.com. The photo was courtesy of Nevada Athletics. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.