Cartier Martin made a dynamic debut last weekend for the San-en NeoPhoenix.
By doing so, he instantly became one of the must-watch names in the B. League’s new season.
In week two of the 2017-18 campaign, the veteran swingman made quite an impression in his first two games, scoring 26 last Saturday while making 5 of 11 3s and dishing out six assists in a whisker under 28 minutes against the Sunrockers Shibuya at Aoyama Gakuin University Memorial Hall in a 72-66 triumph.
The Kansas State alum followed up that performance with 17 points, including 3 of 7 from beyond the arc, with a troika of assists and two steals a day later as San-en closed out the weekend with a 64-54 victory over Shibuya.
The weekend sweep improved San-en’s record to 2-2 entering the third week of the season. (The NeoPhoenix opened a two-game set against a Central Division foe, the visiting Niigata Albirex BB, on Saturday.)
In addition, the two-game showdown against the Sunrockers showcased an aspect of Martin’s game —playmaking — that he said was underutilized while he played in the NBA. Instead, he was often expected to focus on perimeter scoring.
“It’s something I feel I could do more in the NBA, but in the NBA they have a lot of guys that can play, so in the NBA I have to adjust and make myself a role player,” Martin said, reflecting on a career that included appearances in 243 NBA games (15 starts) for the Bobcats, Warriors, Wizards, Hawks, Bulls and Pistons from the 2008-09 season to 2014-15.
“But I always have the ability to be able to put the ball on the floor,” the 32-year-old Texas native told reporters, “to dribble, to pass, but being here in the B. League and having the opportunity to do it brings my game out even more, and it’s going to be big for the season.”
With the back-to-back games fresh in his mind after Sunday’s contest, Martin analyzed the B. League’s style of play and the significance of the sweep of Shibuya.
“Actually, I’m really surprised that the Japanese players are as good as they are. The competition level is really good,” Martin said. “The American guys are good, the foreign players are good. The Japanese players are really good, they are quick, they really know how to play the game.”
The well-traveled Martin soaked up a lot of memories during his NBA years.
Indeed, some of those remembrances include competing against some of the NBA’s elite players.
“My top highlight was getting a buzzer beater against Andre Iguodala when I was with the Washington Wizards,” Martin recalled. “That was the biggest moment for me early on in my career, but you know guys like LeBron James, I have to guard those guys, or Carmelo Anthony. My first years in the league I have to guard these guys, and they are really big and strong guys, and they are top-level guys.
“So guarding those guys was a great experience and it’s something that I’ll always remember. And I was very fortunate enough to be in the NBA and play against those guys.”
He’s averaged 13.8 minutes, 5.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in his NBA career, and taken the floor for three playoff games with the Hawks in 2014, a season in which he appeared in a career-high 53 games.
Hoopshabit.com noted in an August 2014 article that Martin is “a guy who has spent the majority of his career on 10-day contracts.”
And he’s stayed committed to his craft, persevering no matter what uniform he’s wearing.
A graduate of Nimitz High School in Houston, Martin was named an NBA Development League (now called the NBA G League) All-Star in 2010, a year after he was selected to the All-NBA D-League third team.
In various stints with the Iowa Energy and Windy City Bulls in the D-League from the 2008-08 season to 2016-17, Martin posted solid numbers, including 15.6 points in 58 total appearances (48 starts), and as he noted earlier, one of his trademarks is firing up 3s, as evidence by an average of 5.2 attempts a game in the D-League.
Martin’s career numbers in the D-League: 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.9 steals a game.
In November 2015, Energy bench boss Bob Donewald Jr. spelled out Martin’s important role with the team.
“He’s a leader, he’s certainly a leader. I’m not the kind of coach to say ‘you’re a captain, you’re a captain,’ ” Donewald was quoted as saying by lastwordonsports.com. “Before the jump ball goes and the referees call the captains up, the leaders will go up there.”
Expect more of the same for Martin with the NeoPhoenix.
The 201-cm pro’s career has also included stops in Turkey (Antalya BB), Italy (Benetton Treviso) and China (Jilin Northeast Tigers).
In four seasons at Kansas State (2003-07), Martin made 77 starts in 112 games, including 56 of his 57 appearances as a sophomore and junior. He increased his scoring output from 6.9 points as a freshman to 10.5 the next season, then to 18.0 as a junior and 17.1 as a senior.
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