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Rockets 2021-2022 season in review: Kenyon Martin Jr.

A High Flier In Need of More Minutes. Starter minutes.

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets
A Message to You, Rudy.
Photo by Troy Fields/NBAE via Getty Images

Kenyon Martin Jr., known for collecting “No Doubt” or even “Nasty” blocks of the tallest players in the NBA, should soon be known for more than that.

Well, he’s already known for astonishing dunks, too.

So, he should be known for more than nasty blocks, and astonishing dunks.

I suppose he’s known for having a famous NBA player father, Kenyon Martin Sr. Pops Martin was one of the first famous people to take tattoos to a place most feared to tread, or ink, the neck. He got a set of lips tattooed there, and the world shuddered to a halt, and almost ended, until people realize it was just ink on another person’s body, and it wouldn’t leap to yours, or something. Kenyon Martin already had a job for which he was well-paid, so interviews weren’t going to be a problem for him. Now neck tattoos are somewhat commonplace, but back then? It was really something, those lips on his neck.

I digress.

So that’s three things KJ Martin Jr is known for, but there should be more!

Here are some suggestions:

4. Decent Shooting.

Garrison Matthews is a neat story, a fun player, and an charge-call grifter extraordinaire, but by the end of the season, it was unclear what he brought to the table at the “SF” spot that KJ Martin didn’t.

Three Point Shooting? Not exactly.

Matthews shot .360 from three, with a real willingness to get his shot up.

Martin shot .357, with improving confidence. Martin absolutely scorched the net with his shooting in February and March. He shot 43% from 3pt range in February, and a sizzling .47% in March, on 45 attempts (he did cool in April, but on 17 shots). Matthews saw his 3pt shot start to fall apart in February and March, and while this is just shooting variance noise to some extent, the steady climb in Martin’s numbers are more suggestive of skill growth in a 21 year old player, in Martin’s case.

5. Makes Things Happen

If you’re watching the playoffs now, you’re seeing a breakout for 25 year old Suns wing Mikal Bridges. He’s athletic, springy, a 37% 3pt shooter, (down from his better percentage (43%) in 20-21), notable shot blocker and dunker, switchy defender and a guy who just generally makes good things happen on the court.

Could KJ Martin, at 21, be following a similar path? The NBA has a “makes things happen” metric called PIE:

Currently, in his early peak, age 25 season, Mikal Bridge has a PIE of 9.1. Martin? 9.5. (The highest PIE ratings, with real usage, are unsurprisingly, MVP candidates like Nikola Jokic (23), Joel Embiid (21.2), Giannis (21) and Luka (19.1) (usage does drive this stat). A score of 9.5 at 21 is quite respectable for a low usage player.

Bridges, btw, goes 6’6”, 209lbs. Martin Jr? 6’6”, 215lbs.

Martin really ought to be considered for the starting SF role next season, not just because he’s one of the most entertaining and athletic players in the NBA though he is, but because he might have a future in the NBA like a higher flying Mikal Bridges.

(The quickness, and height of his effectively standing leap is almost surreal. (This is a block, on 6’10, 27 year old, Bobby Portis, at roughly 10 seconds (from 2021).) )

Kenyon Martin Jr - he could become known for being an all-around good NBA player (and a spectacular value in the 2nd round).

The time is now.

The place?

Somewhere far above the rim.

Poll

Will Kenyon Martin Jr be an NBA starter?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Yes - next season.
    (161 votes)
  • 11%
    No. He’s a bench player.
    (32 votes)
  • 25%
    Yes, but not yet.
    (68 votes)
  • 2%
    Not until he gets a lot more tattoos.
    (8 votes)
269 votes total Vote Now