What’s KJ Martin’s trade value 2.0

N.B. Lindberg
Milwaukee Bucks v Houston Rockets
Milwaukee Bucks v Houston Rockets / Bob Levey/GettyImages
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What is KJ Martin’s trade value today?

After 29 games, let’s see how KJ Martin’s trade value has changed if it has at all. The good news is that Martin is playing more, and his efficiency has improved. He’s averaging 24.2 minutes per game, up from 21, and has an effective field goal percentage of 60%, up from 59.1%. He is again feasting in low-leverage minutes, but they make up a much smaller percentage of his court time. Martin slightly improving his efficiency while playing more meaningful minutes is an excellent outcome. 

The bad news is that Martin’s 3-point shooting has predictably regressed. He has shot 30.8% from three, down from 35.7%. It hasn’t mattered as he has upped his 2-point shooting efficiency, but he remains a supply-dependent scorer that isn’t a credible floor spacer. Martin can fit into just about any team’s rotation, but it’s unlikely he’ll find much more than the 24.2 minutes per game he is receiving in Houston. 

The key for Martin is his defense. If he was an impact defensive player, his offensive profile would be great, but unfortunately, he has never graded out well on that end. His block and steal percentages are both at career lows, and according to B-Ball Index, his matchup difficulty and defensive impact have him pegged as one of the weaker defenders in the league. (He’s in the bottom left-hand corner)

Martin’s rebounding has improved, and he has played more small forward this season than power forward which adds theoretical defensive versatility, but the numbers definitely don’t see Martin as an asset on defense. He will occasionally uncork a highlight block, but highlights aren’t what makes you a good defender. 

KJ Martin doubles down on his strengths

Martin has continued to improve in the areas where he was already strongest. While that’s not a bad thing, it does make him more of a specialist. If he is utilized where he can consistently do the things he’s already good at, then he can really help a team. However, he still struggles as a floor spacer, on defense, and to create his own shot. At this point, I think the Rockets would be lucky to get a first-round pick for him, but at the same time, they probably shouldn’t move him for anything less. 

Martin is still so young that any improvement as a ball handler, 3-point shooter, and on defense, and he could suddenly be a very intriguing player. I would have preferred his efficiency dropped this season, but it came with some new tricks. Instead, he has perfected his strengths and continues to have the same flaws. Those flaws diminish his trade value substantially, but his possessing real NBA-level strengths give him a good base to build from. KJ Martin remains a highly entertaining project, which is exactly the type of player the Rockets should be targeting.