Your Team Could Use Tyrese Martin | The Prospect Overview
Tyrese Martin's steady shooting, passing, and scrappiness make him a fit for every team in the league. Plus, quick hits on a myriad of prospects!
We all have our blind spots. I call myself “A Draft Sicko,” and I pride myself on at least knowing a little bit about deep-cut prospects across the basketball landscape. Perhaps that’s why it stings so bad when a player sneaks up on me right before the draft; I’d like to think I’m better than that. But I’m not, and none of us are. What matters isn’t being early—it’s being right. And I want to be clear: I think every team in the NBA could use Tyrese Martin.
The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament is where the tide began to turn for me concerning Martin. Though the field wasn’t stacked with high-level, surefire draft picks, it was loaded with fringe NBA players. So when Tyrese Martin looked like the best player in the event, it mattered. His event averages of 19.7 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 0.3 BPG on 55.8/35.3/71.4 splits showed a level of dominance over that tier of prospect. It was instantly obvious that Martin was a Top 100 prospect at the very least, warranting a two-way opportunity or Exhibit-10 contract.
Portsmouth was only the beginning. At the G League Elite Camp, Martin would continue to build his reputation as a King of the Combines. His first outing was pedestrian, scoring eight points, grabbing four rebounds, and nabbing two steals. It was a new skill he showed off that grabbed attention, though; his passing and ball handling. During his senior season at UConn, Martin averaged just under two assists per game and had a barely positive assist-to-turnover ratio. At Elite Camp, he demonstrated that he has more to offer in this depart. He totaled four assists in his first game, and he was often the player his teammates turned to with outlet passes. His peers trusted him and wanted him to be the guy who brought the ball up the floor. In his second game, we saw a similar version of Martin to what we saw at Portsmouth and at UConn, as he scrapped like crazy en route to 13 points on nine shots paired with 14 rebounds. These performances led to Martin being one of the players selected to move up to the NBA Draft Combine.
At the official combine, it was more of the same. In his first scrimmage, Martin scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds in a quieter outing. The second scrimmage saw him stuff the stat sheet again with 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. He hit five of his 12 attempts from NBA distance and again demonstrated that he can do more off the dribble than he was allowed to show in college. Yet again, Tyrese Martin was one of the best players on the floor, but this time, it was among players with a real chance to hear their name called on draft night. Not only is Tyrese Martin talented enough to be drafted, but he has a skill set that every team in the NBA can always use, especially toward the back end of their roster. Hey, you! Yes, you! The reader! Your team could use Tyrese Martin!
For non-bigs who project to be tertiary options in the NBA, shooting numbers are critical. If you aren’t going to have the ball in your hands, you need to provide spacing. If you can’t provide spacing, you’re in deep trouble. Thankfully for Martin, he’s one of the better off-ball players in this draft. After three seasons as a middling three-point shooter (31.7% those years), he emerged during his senior campaign, knocking down 43% of his shots from distance. Mechanically, it’s a quicker, simplified motion compared to his previous shot motion. Off the catch, it’s good as gold, too; he ranked in the 93rd percentile per Synergy on catch-and-shoot jumpers in the halfcourt and no-dribble jumpers. He was average when it came to shooting off the dribble, but the season before, he excelled in that department, leading me to believe he merely had a down year in that area. Martin can comfortably relocate, get his shot off quickly, hit from NBA range, and make tough ones with a hand in his face. As far as I’m concerned, that’s everything you want from a wing coming off the bench.
This has been a more recent revelation in Martin’s game, but the flashes were there this past season. When chased off the line, Martin does a good job of keeping his head up. He’s not a point-forward or anything, but he can reliably make basic passing reads and occasional intermediate ones. His ability to do this differentiates him from many shooting specialists who are more limited and simply skip the ball when their shot isn’t available. His dribble-pass-shoot skillset gives him more upside than other older prospects who have a more basic offensive package. There are hundreds of pro-level shooters out there, but it’s the other things players can do that set them apart. Martin’s ability to create when his look isn’t there gives him a significant edge over those who can’t, and it’s a big part of his value. When teams have to turn to a young player, any little thing they can do to provide positives outside of their primary role will help keep them on the floor and help earn the trust of a coaching staff. Martin isn’t going to make a coaching staff pull their hair out because he makes bad decisions with the ball, and that matters.
This is my favorite element of Tyrese Martin’s game. Each of the past two seasons, the 6’6” Martin has averaged 7.5 RPG, a number that rivals many college centers. Rebounding is often a matter of the heart, and Martin’s beats with unparalleled intensity. He’s always on the hunt, and while he aggressively pursues the glass, he does it in a cerebral manner. Martin knows how to snake and slither around bodies and box-outs before soaring for the ball. His vertical explosiveness helps, but a lot of guys can jump high; it’s his competitiveness and intellect that puts him a tier above most players his size. His ability to patrol the boards can help a team play smaller line-ups without compromising their rebounding.
While he’s more solid than spectacular, Martin’s defense is still a positive. He’s a fluid mover who slides his feet well. His first step is solid, allowing him to get steals when perimeter players throw lazy passes. His vertical pop also helps on defense, as he can seamlessly transition from sliding into contesting a shot. When he needs to close out, he comes in under control with good speed, making shots difficult without ceding the lane to his opponent. He ranked out in the 62nd percentile on Synergy for defending jump shots, a solid mark demonstrating his technical prowess. Over the past two seasons, his STL % has been 1.7 and his BLK % was 1.8; these numbers won’t blow you away, but paired with his physical tools, they clearly show that he’s not a liability who can be targeted.
That Dog In Him
Synergy doesn’t track “Having That Dog In Him in the Halfcourt,” but if they did, Martin would grade out exceptionally well on both ends. His motor never shuts off. If there’s a loose ball, he’s chasing it. When rebounds get tipped up in the air, he’s going to fly in and grab it. He’s someone you want on the floor in a tough game because he doesn’t make many mistakes and never quits on plays. Even when you think he’s been beaten or taken out of the play, he works his way back into it and can alter shots or force a tough pass around the basket. He does all of the things that you would associate with gritty, winning basketball.
At the end of the day, every team needs guys who do the stuff Tyrese Martin does. He’s going to provide spacing, he knows how to handle himself when he has to put it on the floor, he fights for rebounds, he competes on defense, and he never gives up on a play. Sure, he’s not a perfect player. His handle is rudimentary, he’s struggled to finish around the basket, and he’s not a lockdown defender. But when you’re getting into the second round, you’re realistically looking at players who you hope can someday fill out the back end of your rotation. There may be more tantalizing upside swings on the board at that point, but often, those players don’t pan out. If you’re a competitive organization, Tyrese Martin deserves your attention. He’s low maintenance without severe flaws; he doesn’t take anything off the table. Even if you’re rebuilding, it’s never a bad thing to have a few solid, competent players on the roster to bring stability to the line-up; Martin can offer that. Whether it’s in the second round or as an undrafted free agent signing, he warrants consideration. This is why your team, no matter what stage of roster-building they may be in, could use Tyrese Martin!
-Despite his rise after the NBA Draft Combine, I’m still not all the way there with Terquavion Smith. His pass placement on the go leaves a lot to be desired, and it feels like this type of scoring guard is available almost every year. I’m going to keep digging on him, but he feels like the type of player I’m okay missing on.
-I’ve been slow to pull the trigger on giving Max Christie a strong grade, but after deep diving into his film, I’m closer than I’ve been since a hot stretch during the regular season. His offensive footwork is polished, the stroke looks gorgeous, and his defense impressed me more than I’d anticipated. His ability to slither around screens on defense and stop on a dime to pull up into his shooting motion on offense stood out the most. I can’t slot him in the first round yet, but it’s possible that he gets there if the field thins out after June 1st.
-A smart team is going to take Ron Harper Jr. and look great for doing it. His length compensates for his lack of pop, he’s better at chasing guys around on defense than his frame would indicate, and he’s a snappy decision-maker. Combine that with his shot-making profile, and he’s a winning player if his game can scale up.
-I still have no idea what to do with Julian Strawther. He’s got great size, he can shoot, and he’s an excellent cutter. Sadly, he’s so much worse defensively than his size and offensive savvy would lead you to believe. He looks slow when he’s trying to prevent players from getting to the rim, and the distance he sags off when guarding the ball is a tell that he doesn’t trust his feet.
-I’ve always been a fan of watching players in their worst games. It’s a great way to see what players can do when they aren’t hitting shots and whether or not they can still impact the game in that scenario. This is critical for projecting rookies out of the gate in particular, as they often produce poor shooting splits. I’ve been low on Jabari Walker all season, but after watching some of his “bad” film, I like him more than ever. His playmaking for others is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was last season, and his slimmer frame has allowed him to be a much more natural mover on defense. I’d thoroughly underrated how much better he makes his teammates. After a slow start caused him to spend much of the draft cycle outside of the second round, he’s now firmly a Top 50 guy for me.