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Memphis Grizzlies 2016-17 Player Grades: Jarell Martin

Jarell is still a work in progress.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Jarell Martin

Jarell Martin 2016-17
Jarell Martin 2016-17
Points Per Game 3.9
Rebounds Per Game 3.9
Assists Per Game 20.0%
Field Goal Percentage 38.4%
Offensive Rating 95.4
Defensive Rating 99.5
Net Rating -4.1
Player Efficiency Rating 8.7
Usage Rate 16.1%
Assist Percentage 2.5%
Win Shares Per 48 Minutes 0.054
Minutes Per Game 13.3

Look, I’m just gonna own this: At the beginning of the season, I thought Jarell Martin would show out and take the leap that, for all intents and purposes, JaMychal Green did. They are fairly different players, so I don’t mean it that way, but I thought Green would (just) be solid and that Martin would jump him in the starting lineup within a few months’ time.

It would’ve been nice if that all worked out, because for one thing, Green’s contract is expiring and there’s going to be a difficult decision to make on him, one that I think might just creep up to a $40 to 50 million contract. Green is awesome, and really really that good. As another thing, I think Martin could’ve been as well.

David Fizdale gave him a chance, and that’s all you can ask for. Basically through to January, Martin was a rotation regular, although his minutes took a gradual decline, paralleling his play. You saw some of the pure stuff that he’s got in his bag of tricks, the stuff that makes him so exciting as a prospect. He’s got a body type that isn’t dissimilar to Zach Randolph’s, but he’s also got run-and-jump athleticism that Z-Bo doesn’t. Picture a guy like that, pump faking the close-out and spinning through your defense.

So that’s the upside. Martin was also encouraged to shoot threes, mostly from the corners, and the 9-for-25 (.360) result is generally a rosy one. His rebounding was fine, defensive hands and lateral mobility surprisingly not bad, and of course, the offensive versatility is what you’re really holding out for. The tools, definitely, are there, and a guy with all of them would be awesome as Marc Gasol’s power forward. But nothing came together this season.

From his second DNP-CD of the season (Jan. 8th) onwards, Martin played in just four games — two more in the same month, and the very last two of the season. Let’s recount the things that happened during that time: injuries to Green and Gasol, Brandan Wright’s (re-?)integration into the rotation, the month of March which was basically a write-off, loads of opportunity in general, and for Martin, lengthy stints with the Iowa Energy because he just couldn’t establish himself as a consistent guy.

It’s too bad, but with Green kicking butt and Z-Bo being Z-Bo but off the bench, power forward was the one position on the depth chart where you really had to excel to get minutes. Martin didn’t do that. To be kind of blunt here, he’s kind of like Terrence Jones: the guy who might be able to do a lot of things one day, but doesn’t do any of them yet, and possibly ever.

The way Martin vanished over the course of the season casts doubt on his future, and it should. It’s only his second year, but real NBA players don’t do that. Ed Davis in Toronto had about a week or so of looking like a legit player during his third year, and then the Raptors cut him loose (to Memphis!) in the Rudy Gay trade. He’s salvaged his career as a 9th man, and honestly a pretty good one, but you can see how Martin could be on that same path: a search for identity that just ends in obscurity. Do you guys remember Jarnell Stokes?

That’s the grimdark forecast, and that’s not quite where I’m at. I still believe in Jarell Martin. I like what he’s got and I think he’ll get somewhere. Where, though, I can’t say in specific anymore. A whole lot is hinging on next season, and the deadline on his 2018-19 team option is October 31st of this year.

Best Game

This game tied for Martin’s highest scoring game of the season at 13 points, and was one of just three times that he hit double figures in scoring. One of those other times was a double-double, which maybe makes it a more impressive game, but this one came in the 21-point smashing of the Golden State Warriors on December 10th, so yeah, let’s relive this one a little bit.

Martin was active in this one, filling space at the right time for easy paint scores and a whole load of dunks. He had a nice chemistry with Andrew Harrison, which is plenty more than I can say for myself. There was a clean catch-and-shoot three at the end of the game, and he finished with 13 on 5-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds. Not much else to say, but have some fun with it and watch the video. Memphis smacked the Warriors around.

Ways to Improve His Game

  • Finishing ability: Jarell has a nice first step, but got stuffed up by help defense way too often. The post game wasn’t there at all. Make use of that size! The best version of Jarell blows by bigs and bullies smalls, but getting to the rim is only half of the job. It’s the harder part, sure, so pleeease finish when you’re there.
  • Defense: Way better than I thought it’d be, and there was nice progress in hedging P&Rs and poking the ball loose. It still needs to be better, and this side of the game has always been the question for him.
  • Decisiveness: For a guy with a multitude of ways to score, Martin has to own it. At his best, he’s stringing his moves along like he’s Boris Diaw. More commonly, he’s catching the ball and then thinking through the next steps, letting the defense settle in.
  • Basically, everything: You see a little of something in a lot of things, but it all has to get better. There needs to be consistency, and oh god, I hope JaMychal returns.

2016-17 Overall Grade

Sorry, homie. From the bottom of my heart, I hope you crush it in 2017-18 and on.

Grade: D

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