Kenyon Martin Jr.
Kenyon Martin Jr., aka K.J. Martin, is the lone draft pick acquired by the Houston Rockets in the 2020 NBA Draft. They also didn’t draft him — they traded cash considerations and a future second round pick for Martin’s right from the Kings.
As of last week, Houston signed the rook to a four-year deal, with the first year fully guaranteed.
Now that we have the formalities out of the way, how exactly will he fit with this Rockets team? Martin, like his namesake (his dad is Kenyon Martin in case you didn’t know that), is known for his incredible athleticism. Jonathan Givony of ESPN described Martin as “arguably the best athlete in the draft.”
Martin stands at only 6’7” and 215 pounds; a wing player, and far from the under-the-basket paint-clogger and rebounder that Sr. was. But just like his father, he absolutely rocks the rim.
A positive is that Martin is known for a muscular frame and playing bigger than his height, according to NBA.com’s official scouting report. If the Rockets continue to play Martin at the guard/forward position, they’ll have a wing that is a productive rebounder on both ends of the floor. With his size, speed, and athleticism, he could potentially guard anyone between the point guard and small forward position, possibly even covering some power forwards.
The biggest knock against Martin would be that he has no experience in playing against college-level competition, deciding to forgo college and play for IMG Academy’s Post-Graduate team in 2019-2020. The biggest upside would be that in his lone post-grad season, he showed growth in passing, ball handling, and most importantly, shooting.
Martin was one of the best shooters in the NBA Combine’s Endurance Drill.
Arguably the best athlete in the draft, KJ Martin surprised by also finishing as one of the best shooters in the NBA Combine's Endurance drill (five minutes of consecutive game-speed shots). He went 50/70 (71%). pic.twitter.com/7eHd9icSoO— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) November 9, 2020
While the only player projects that the Rockets have been interested in the past are ones that are either well past their prime or returning from major injury (welcome John Wall), Houston is officially under new management and could looking to use Martin and other young players to the best of their abilities.
Ideally, Martin would fill in a desperate need Houston has for wing players. This offseason, they lost productive members like Robert Covington, Austin Rivers, and Jeff Green — that’s some much-needed perimeter defense and three-point shooting now gone. If he can prove himself to be an effective 3-and-D player, he’ll find himself in the rotation.