In mid-January, the Nets got busy. With Kyrie Irving back after missing seven weeks with shoulder issues, the front office made a couple of moves at the end of bench ... and on Long Island. With Timothe’ Luwawu-Cabarrot running out of days on his two-way deal, the Nets moved him from a two-way to the first of two 10-days; Justin Anderson who had been on a 10-day was waived and Jeremiah Martin, one of the top players in the G League, was slotted into TLC’s open two-way,
Martin made the trip from Sioux Falls, SD. home of the Heat’s G League affiliate, to Brooklyn and signed a two-year two-way, the first time that’s happened in the Nets G League history. After that, things got crazier in the Nets backcourt. Kyrie’s return to play got short-circuited in late February and Chris Chiozza, who had been signed to a two-way on January 4, slid into the back-up point guard spot.
Where’d that leave Martin, a 6’2” combo guard? In Long Island. Martin played only 16 minutes in Brooklyn the rest of the way, but the 23-year-old had already showed he had some potential in the G League. Back at the end of November, he had scored 31 points for the Skyforce vs. Northern Arizona.
So what do the Nets see in Martin? Scoring, sure, but also his passing and especially his defense.
Martin had gone undrafted in June, but the Heat liked him enough at Memphis to sign him for summer league, then training camp. Something everybody knew about him since Day 1 was that he was a great scorer. In fact, that is what helped Martin stand out before getting recruited to attend the school. Martin averaged over 18 points in his final two years of college and he became a top 10 scorer leader in Memphis history.
Penny Hardaway, an NBA icon best known for the success he and Shaquille O’Neal had in Orlando, coached Martin in his last year at Memphis. He was not surprised at all to see him prosper in the G League. He’s said, “It doesn’t surprise me one bit because he’s the most competitive guy in the country. He can defend really well, and he’s tough to guard.”
After becoming the Tigers’ starting point guard in his sophomore season, Martin became a key facilitator for Memphis, something that’s overlooked about Martin’s game. He averaged 4.4 assists in that same season and followed that up with 3.8 assists junior year and 4.4 again during his senior year. And in 37 games with the Skyforce and Nets, Martin upped that part of his game, hitting open teammates nearly five times a game.
But his scoring and passing is not even the best part about his game. He is also known for his defense. He said so himself after he was signed.
“I bring a little bit of everything, mainly defense,” Martin told NetsDaily two days after he arrived in Long Island. “I bring energy and I know I can bring that every game. Most of the time you know your shot is not going to be there every night but your defensive energy has to be there. I feel like that’s one thing I can bring everyday. Just bringing that energy, bringing that defense, and let the offense follow.”
Martin is an absolute thief in the passing lane. His height of 6’2” and longer wingspan gives him the ability to guard more than one position. In college, he averaged just over two steals in his 2018 campaign and led AAC in steals. Again, he averaged almost the same amount the next year and in the G League.
In 2019, after completing workouts with a number of teams, the Nets guard went undrafted. A little over a month after the draft, he was picked up by the Miami Heat’s Summer League team where he eventually earned an Exhibit 10 contract.
Recently, Martin’s scoring, passing, and defense has translated right on over to the G league. In his short time with the Long Island Nets, he played more minutes and started more games than he had in Sioux Falls.
“He was aggressive,” Long Island coach Shawn Fein said after Martin helped the Nets to a big win on March 1. “He was aggressive trying to get to the rim and taking his man off the dribble and getting to the rim. When the defense collapses, I want him to see that and try to hit the guys that are open along the three point line. Defensively, he was good as well.”
Sixteen days after Jeremiah Martin was signed, he made his NBA debut against the Chicago Bulls. It did not take Martin long to score his first career points five days later against the Golden State Warriors. Martin recorded two points, one assist and one steal in the final nine minutes of the Nets win. That of course is a small sample.
A young player who can guard multiple positions and can be a team player is something that Nets need at this time. He brings defense, scoring, passing, and more importantly a selfless attitude.
With his two-year deal, the Nets will have an opportunity to keep Martin next and develop him further. Sure, there’s a lot of backcourt talent now, but the Nets have a history finding and growing those whose talents others haven’t appreciated.