Does KJ Martin Deserve More Playing Time?

Kenyon Martin Jr., Sixers trade target (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Kenyon Martin Jr., Sixers trade target (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

On October 31st, the Philadelphia 76ers traded disgruntled point guard James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers for a package of players and draft picks. One of the players that the Sixers received in the trade was KJ Martin. Son of Kenyon Martin, KJ was drafted in the second round in 2020 by the Houston Rockets and spent several years with the team before spending the beginning of the 2023 season with the Clippers.

Martin had a career year in 2022, averaging 12.7 points on 57% shooting from the field throughout 82 games. So far in his Sixers tenure, Martin has played a total of just eight minutes over three games. With Kelly Oubre out for an extended period, this poses the question: Does KJ Martin deserve more playing time?

Of all the players the Sixers received, Martin is the youngest and has the most potential.

Covington, Batum, and Morris are all nice role players who will all contribute in various ways this year, however, they are all in their mid-30s and on the tail end of their careers. They were included in the deal mainly for salary cap filler purposes and have the potential to be shipped elsewhere in a midseason trade. Comparatively, Martin is just 22 years old, with only 211 games under his belt. His youth and room for development make him a compelling prospect for the franchise’s future.

He has shown a great ability to knock down two-point shots and grab rebounds, and his game is perfect for the 76ers. Martin has started just 59 games in his career but has an impressive game-high of 31 points, which shows his efficiency on the offensive end when given big-time minutes.  If paired up with Tyrese Maxey, he has the potential to create an unstoppable fast-break duo that will be hard for teams to contain.

There are still multiple areas of Martin’s game that he can improve.

His passing ability and free-throw shooting leave much to be desired. His career high in assists is 1.5 per game (2022) while he is shooting 67% from the free throw line, which is below the league average. He is also a below-average three-point shooter, shooting just 33% from the field throughout his career. The three-point shot is more important than ever in the modern NBA and this is certainly an area that he will have to work on.

Martin is also quick; he has the ability to be an above-average scorer and can play both forward positions which can prove to be critical in the absence of Kelly Oubre. Over the weekend, Oubre was involved in a car accident and was left with broken ribs amongst other injuries. His injuries will ultimately have him sidelined for several weeks if not months. It will not be an easy task to replace Oubre’s production, and the Sixers will have to depend on multiple players to fill his shoes including Martin.

Looking ahead, the Sixers face decisions regarding their roster and cap space after the current season. With ample room for potential signings, the franchise is poised to consider both superstars and role players. Given the opportunity, KJ Martin has the potential to emerge as a key role player, contributing not only in the short term but also evolving into a more significant asset over the coming years.