Jarell Martin is a bit of a mystery box. He’s looked good this season, definitely improved over his rookie season from last year in just about every way, but you can tell he’s still sort of finding his way. He doesn’t have that one aspect of his game that really defines him yet.
Guys that look like Martin would probably be shoehorned into the Draymond Green role, but his defense is too much a mixed bag for that (the 6'10 wingspan doesn’t help — Draymond goes for 7'1). Instead, Martin is more so sold for his offensive versatility, which strangely doesn’t feel like something I’ve ever typed before, but he’s funky like that. He doesn’t play like he looks at all.
Pretty impressively, Martin has made 8 of 20 three-pointers this season (40.0 percent, at a per-36 rate of 2.0 threes per game). He attempted two all of last season, missing both, so this is a big step forward in his development. There are more steps to take and 20 shots isn’t a healthy sample size at all, but the form on his jumper looks clean.
I’m gonna go ahead and give David Fizdale some credit for this, and his influence makes me optimistic going forward. Roughly two-thirds of Martin’s threes have come from the corner this season, which I’m reading as sort of like training wheels for the early going. You’ll want him to be doing things from above the break eventually, but this is a perfectly reasonable pace for him to develop at.
The 34 percent field goal shooting is more concerning, but it doesn’t seem likely to last. Encouragingly, Martin has looked good attacking off the bounce, against close-outs or slower bigs, and getting all the way to the rim. He’s got wheels and a decent handle (although, like in these clips, he still gets jammed up in the lane sometimes):
With any luck, the finishes will come — Martin is shooting below 40 percent from within three feet this season, which is stupid and unlikely to continue. I wouldn’t be too worried. Martin’s a big dude and blow-by speed is much harder to teach than finishing in the paint. Already, he can pull off stuff like this every once in a while:
That’s all of 6'10, 240 lbs double clutching and spinning through your defense.
All the same, Martin would have an easier time if the lanes were a little wider for him. I’ve been pining for Martin to start with Marc Gasol, and this was originally more because I didn’t think Martin and Zach Randolph could work defensively, but increasingly I think Gasol’s passing with Martin’s game would just be wild fun.
The spacing would help too, so that Martin isn’t double clutching and spinning smack into help defenders.
There’s only one thing that’s really worrying me moving forward, which is lack of inside presence. On the whole I’m not too bothered about this yet, since I doubt he’s getting pushed around inside any time soon, but it’s worth mentioning that Martin isn’t operating in the paint much at all. This kind of goes back to the poor shooting percentage within three feet that I mentioned earlier, but more than that, I’m concerned with the lack of shots in that range.
We haven’t really seen any kind of post game or Z-Bo style bully ball from Martin. Certainly the Grizzlies aren’t in need of it right now, but I’m curious to see what it looks like. Having the inside game to punish undersized 4s would be what really sets off his match-up busting potential. At his size, being able to fly around and work outside in is great, but I feel like Martin could be doing more with his size. He feels incomplete without any paint presence.
But Martin’s still growing, and I’m expecting many more twists in his development. Very little I’ve seen yet feels determinate of his future, and that’s kind of a sample size thing — 380 minutes in 27 games last season, 357 in 24 this season — but it also goes back to the mystery box thing. We don’t have much exact knowledge about Martin beyond his tools.
There are things that Martin looks like he should be doing that I wouldn’t be surprised to see later on. There are things he does that he looks like shouldn’t be doing at all. For the most part, they’re all things that look like he’s working on them, and that’s kind of the whole point of the excitement.
I guess the one thing is, you could afford to play him a little more.