In the tragic story of the so-far 2021 Houston Rockets, there seems to be only a few bright spots. Kenyon Martin Jr can be one of them, granted Coach Silas can recognize the insurmountable talent that lies inside. "Overlooked" has been the often spoken phrase regarding KJ, but this season; a season full of despair and disappointment, can be the one where he breaks the mold.
Houston Rockets: Kenyon Martin Jr's journey to the NBA
Coming out of IMG Academy in 2020, Kenyon Martin Jr. was only known as an uberly athletic forward with decent rebound skills. His frequent flashes of brilliance led to averages of 20 points and 8 rebounds per game in his sole season at the basketball factory.
Martin's jump shot has been the cause of concern for most of his basketball career. Outside of the paint, he just never seemed to be able to put the ball in the basket from range.
Already being looked at as a flyer project for most teams, KJ dropped 37 points in the National Prep Showcase, showing a massively improved jumper. His offensive explosion caught the eyes of even more NBA scouts, as the one hole in Martin Jr.’s game finally saw some improvement, and this would turn out to be the turning point for his young basketball playing career.
Martin Jr. was taken 54th overall in the NBA Draft in 2020 by the Sacramento Kings, but wouldn’t last long in the organization as he was traded just a week later to the Rockets, who loved his potential as a rotation piece on a soon to be rebuilding team.
Houston Rockets: From the G-League to NBA
Not a stranger to non-believers in his basketball ability, KJ would not be deterred. The Houston Rockets' G-League team, The Rio Grande Valley Vipers, would see a lot more of Martin Jr. than the Rockets would early in the year. After averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds in separate stints for the Vipers, Martin would finally return to the Rockets for the rest of the NBA season - proving to be a valuable rotation piece down the stretch.
He would end the year averaging nine points and five boards for them on 50-percent from the field and a very respectable 36-percent from beyond the arc, showing his true scoring versatility potential. Some might view this as the launching pad for his rise to superstardom, but this just hasn't seemed to be the case for Martin Jr.'s entire basketball life.
After his very solid rookie campaign, Martin has been lost in the roster shuffle a bit, as he's been contending with the Danuel House Jr. for consistent playing time. Unfortunately for KJ, this has been the story all too often.
Can Kenyon Martin Jr carve out a consistent role for the Rockets?
With all of the ability in his frame, and his finishing and shot-blocking ability, Martin should be a mainstay in the Rockets rotation. His shot has made leaps and bounds with consistent time. His rim protection at 6 foot 6 is unbelievable, and his finishing skill through multiple defenders is almost unmatched - shooting an asinine 75-percent from inside the restricted area this season.
For the Houston Rockets to make the leap from a rebuilding team to a competitive offensive juggernaut, they must find time for this 20-year-old diamond in the rough, and they have to find it fast, or another team just might find it for them.