In Game 1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers' matchup with the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, TNT commentator Chris Webber kept preaching one thing - that the Cavs' bench scoring was abysmal. Never mind that the starting lineup for the Cavs had ripped Boston limb from limb in Game 4, the Cavs were missing two starters, and Iman Shumpert had one of his better offensive games for the Cavs after being thrust into the starting lineup. While I disagree with this premise that scoring off the bench is the Cavs' biggest issue, it is something that we haven't really addressed directly in the Prospect of the Week series. With that, let's look at a big who projects as a pretty good bench scorer.
Who is Jarell Martin?
Martin is a sophomore forward from LSU who averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last year. He's a bit of a unique prospect, because he's got the size and strength of a power forward, but some think he can shift down to the three because he's a good athlete and developing shooter. Martin is an LSU guy, so you'll never believe this, but he can be slightly inconsistent at times. However, there's a good amount to like about Martin as a potential bench weapon in the NBA. Martin ranks 25th at Draft Express, 27th at CBS Sports, and is currently mocked to the Cavs at Tankathon.
There's not much not to like about Martin athletically. He's 6'9" with a 6'10" wingspan, and is incredibly quick for a power forward, which helps him on the defensive end. He's a great leaper as well, and his dunk reel is a full one:
Martin's quickness and explosiveness will make him difficult to handle on the offensive end, and he's strong enough to cope with bigger opponents as well. His upper body is ripped, and he uses that well on the offensive glass, muscling opponents away from the hoop and finishing through contact. Martin doesn't have great lower body strength, which can hurt his post play on both ends, but overall he's a pretty good athlete who shouldn't have to overcome much to succeed in the NBA.
Martin's a huge draw offensively because of his versatility. He does a little bit of everything, and has some decent shooting range as well. Martin's best at attacking off the dribble from the perimeter, as he attacks closeouts well and can finish in traffic, even against lengthier defenders. LSU liked to have Martin play as a spot-up threat for this reason, because he could shoot or drive off kick-outs, and he's also really good at crashing in for putbacks from the perimeter. The pick-and-roll is another area Martin should excel in, because he can use his strength to set good picks, and is a threat to score off a roll or pop to the outside. Martin even is a pretty decent ball-handler for his position, and LSU let him run the ball in transition and even put him as a ball-handler in the PNR occasionally.
Martin is also a threat to make plays off the ball. He's a good cutter, and does all the things Tristan Thompson likes to do; catch and finish drop-off passes, box out on the offensive end, and set strong screens on and off the ball. He's not a great passer, but that's not a huge deal, because he makes up for that with his offensive rebounding and screen game. Martin's scoring ability should mean that he can be an effective bench scorer on a second unit, and he's versatile enough to fade into the background when other scorers are on the floor.
Martin's shooting is a little inconsistent, mostly because his mechanics are less than ideal. He shoots off-center, and cocks his elbow out when he releases, and that makes his shooting range questionable at the next level. He also likes to force things at times, especially if he has a mismatch and starts taking his man into the post, where he lacks touch. This is probably what will force him to only be a bench guy at the next level. Unless he gets a consistent jumper from three and improves his consistency, I can't see him ever being able to start without hijacking an offense.
Martin's on-ball defense is, for the most part, good. He's quick, long, and strong enough to guard most fours and some threes and fives, and he was a fantastic collegiate isolation defender, which should help him eventually become a solid pick-and-roll defender at the next level. He was an average post defender in college, but really struggled with opponents with length and a solid base, because he lacks the lower body strength to maintain position. However, against stretch fours in the pick-and-pop, Martin should excel, because he's solid at closing out and recovering to shooters on the perimeter.
That's about the extent of Martin's strengths off the ball, though. He can play passing lanes pretty well, but he's rarely fully engaged on this end, and he can lose his man off the ball for cuts and offensive rebounds. Martin's a disappointing defensive rebounder for this reason, and he really has no skill as a rim protector, because he's often a step slow to make those rotations to cover the basket. That might come with age, but Martin's not going to be a plus defender any time soon, realistically.
Martin's mental lapses defensively occur with regularity, and that combined with his inconsistency offensively makes his ceiling a bit lower than a guy of a similar skill set like David Lee (Who at least tries consistently on defense). Martin's also going to need to learn that balance between bench scorer and offensive role player, which he never really got down at LSU. If he lands on a team that sets and enforces clearly identifiable roles (Like, say, Cleveland or Golden State), he should be able to grow over time into a player who can be effective in both situations. However, he could slide on draft day because of fear of that inconsistency and his broken jumper - potentially into the second round.
Martin's offensively versatile, he can hit out to 18 feet, struggles to stay locked in defensively, and is inconsistent but still has 15 point/15 rebound explosions every once in awhile. That reminds me of a former Cavalier. Someone who was horribly frustrating, but there was still, just, something about him......
(h/t Daily Dime Live. RIP)
Martin is well set up to fill a similar role to what Speights does for the Warriors. He can be the focal point of a bench unit offensively, should be at least hideable defensively, and will likely be prone to alternating games of something like six points, two rebounds, followed by a 21 point, 15 rebound outburst. Martin probably won't ever be a high-volume producer because of his post deficiency and inconsistency, but he threw averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds per 40 minutes last season. I can see him doing a great impression of the Per-36 God.
How Does he Fit on the Cavaliers?
Martin would be a fun player to pair next to Thompson. TT and Mozgov hide Martin's defensive and rebounding issues, and Martin could definitely be a nice PNR threat with LeBron or Kyrie. He's inconsistent, sure, and I'm skeptical the Cavs are the team to be able to fix his jumper, but in theory, he could be the guy the Cavs use as a second scoring option when two of LeBron, Love, and Irving sit. He's also an emergency policy if Thompson unexpectedly signs an offer sheet that the Cavs don't match because he has a similar offensive skill set and could develop into the same type of defender Thompson is, although definitely not as good. There are better options than Martin at pick 24, but the Cavs could definitely get some use from him.