In the late November competition against Denver NuggetsThe Miami Heat they were Down three players: Jimmy Butler (tailbone), Tyler Hero (illness), and Markive Morris (neck), who were injured in the infamous Nikola Jokic accident earlier that month in Denver.
Commissioned by teammates and, most importantly, coach Eric Spoelstra – Heat winger Caleb Martin, who are I signed a two-way contract Just months before that, he was named to the starting line-up in place of Butler.
Martin has played no more than 26 minutes in any of his first 17 games for Miami, averaging 5.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks in 16.4 minutes on this stretch — equaling 11.3 productive points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals One block for every 36 minutes of work.
Early in his first career, he scored 18 points, four boards and assists in 8-of-15 shots, including 2-of-4 from a 3-point range in 33 minutes. Despite Miami losing, Martin still delivers a good combination as a transitional spark, ground breaker and a solid kick-starter on the inside.
His next start – nine days later, also in place of a curvy Butler – has shown one of the team’s most impactful solo runs of the entire regular season. This came against the defending champion at the time Milwaukee Bucks.
Martin scored a career high of 28 points with eight rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks. He drowned nine out of 12 baskets, including 6 of 8 from Beyond the Arc and 4 of 4 from Charity Stripe.
“How can you not love Caleb Martin?” Max Strauss said after the December 9 victory. “The dude just plays hard, whatever the circumstances. Every night he locks up.
“How could you not want a man on your team like this?”
And Strus is right – how could you not want a guy like that on your team? Not everyone, for some reason, but everyone is indisputably shouldbut I digress.
In total, Martin started 12 games for Miami last season – the team fought 8-4 in such matches. Some notable victories came against Toronto RaptorsAnd the Atlanta Hawks (twice), Phoenix Suns The currency mentioned above. In those starts, he scored 13.7 points, 5.3 rebounds – 1.8 attack planks – 0.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. Martin fired 52.8 percent from the ground (61.3 percent from 2) and 40.0 percent from a 3-point range, and he has an above-average real shooting mark of 62.9 percent.
None of that is directly related to Martin’s direct influence on the game. Even though he was entering his third season in the league, it didn’t seem like much that Martin would be asked when he signed that two-way deal that he eventually invested in a record contract. So there was. And during those dire cases, he replied.
Now, the question arises: With a PJ Tucker-sized gap in his 4-spot, is Martin ready to fill the gap?
Let’s make the case.
On the first day of free agency in late June, Tucker He signed a three-year deal worth $33.2 million With the Eastern Conference competitor Philadelphia 76erscompletely consuming their mid-level exception, but making the Sixers tougher and tougher.
Thus, Miami’s starting point for the forward force has yet to be claimed. And we might not even claim the full answer to that question until the trade deadline, but Martin may have the best chance of grabbing that famous gig – for now – coming in mid-October.
Martin and Tucker aren’t exactly alike, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t completely different.
Tucker’s ungrateful duty was his spearhead’s “all gas, no brakes” toughness and resounding effect on the defensive end—both positionally and physically, and perhaps most of all those who don’t see him live, verbally.
One night, the 6-foot-5 forward could be tasked with shutting down Hawks sniper Trae Young at the point of attack—something he was asked to do a lot in the playoffs. The following night, he could be relied upon, by his peers and others, to physically impose his will against Kevin Durant in the hopes of spurring the scoring kicks of one of the NBA’s greatest scorers overnight.
In addition to his defensive impact, he has made valiant efforts on the offensive glass, as a handover initiator, a sieve, and as a 3-point corner specialist.
Defensively, Martin is not necessarily different. He willingly took on – and held on – against Young, Chris Middleton, Pascal Siakam, Stephen Curry (!!) and Bradley Beal, among others. Martin’s quick instincts and instincts allow him to keep up with more slender flankers, though his thin frame (compared to his ruggedness) may limit his upward defensive trend against the Big 4.
Martin hasn’t been as active as the Tester, scoring nearly a quarter of the screen as Tucker on a minute-by-minute basis, but his off-ball movements consist of more self-creating properties (cutting, flying around screens, etc.) to better match Miami’s offensive output .
As a sparkler, the 26-year-old has blossomed into a transition. He finished in the 71st percentile in the transition, scoring 1.23 points per game as one of the most common transition points, per Synergy. His original touch, deer-like speed/steps combined with his high-flying sprint, allowed him to finish on the edge – especially in sprinting opportunities.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two players is: Martin was able to sweep the floor over the first half and be able to create a dribble off the ball.
Here’s a look at last year’s screenshots chart for comparison.
PJ Tucker’s shot chart:
Caleb Martin’s Shot Scheme:
At times, Tucker’s 3-point spacing wasn’t effective enough, allowing rival defenders to block the driving lanes of Jimmy Butler and Pam Adebayo and compress the floor. It happened to Martin, too, but he was willing to make more 3-point ATB or put the ball overboard to further flex the defenses—at least more than Tucker.
Martin had one of the best shooting games in Miami last year as well, smashing 40.2 percent of his attempts from distance. With Tucker’s departure combined with a bigger role for Oladipo, it could mean an increase in those opportunities for Martin next season.
But he may also be tasked with more playmaking tasks at the elbows and above the break as a delivery starter – a role he didn’t use much last season. Nor was Tucker before he was thrown into the Heat attack. The DHO is a staple of Spoelstra, and Martin’s spry rim-run provides an intriguing aspect that can turn into a killer finish.
Martin will likely have to develop a sustainable float – like Tucker did – to really accentuate the offense, but his vertical sport already takes the place of Tucker, making the addition not necessary for the immediate future.
The point is: Martin Walker has some interesting traits, but it isn’t exactly like her player. The former may be more offensive than its predecessor, while the defense is still a bit behind. But that might be a trade-off that Miami can live with, at least for now. Playing alongside Adebayo and Butler – two constant defensive players – certainly has its benefits.
If Martin is able to change and at least stick to his position on the defensive end, he will still be defensive at the top. Offensively, he can, once again, save space on the ATB floor and create a better dribble than a Tucker.
However, it is conceivable that Martin excels in this role – no matter how similar or not he may be to Tucker. But only time will tell whether Really ready for this arduous task.
“I feel like I can step in and get started. No matter what the role is and what the team needs from me, I feel I can fill that void,” Martin said during an exit interview. “My game has expanded in terms of shooting, becoming more efficient and more consistent…I feel like I’ve taken big strides and feel like I’m just going to make bigger strides going forward.”