As the 2021-22 NBA season progresses closer and closer toward a conclusion, avenues for the Philadelphia 76ers to enhance their roster draw near. Among those avenues is NBA Free Agency, which kicks off July 1 at midnight. As that date approaches, Liberty Ballers will be breaking down some free agents who might make sense in a Sixers uniform.
- 2021-22 statistical profile: 71 games, 26.3 minutes, 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 57.9 percent true shooting (.482/.384/.701 split)
- Advanced metrics: -1.4 Estimated Plus-Minus (263rd overall), -1.2 O-EPM (268th), -0.2 D-EPM (243rd)
- 2021-22 statistical profile: 60 games, 22.9 minutes, 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 61.1 percent true shooting (.507/.413/.763 split)
- Playoff statistics: 17 games, 12.3 minutes, 4.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 46 percent true shooting (.400/.303/.333 split)
- Advanced metrics: +0.6 EPM (128th), -0.7 O-EPM (212th), +1.3 D-EPM (69th)
Identical twins sporting identical 6-foot-5, 205-pound frames, Cody and Caleb Martin share quite the overlap in their respective skill-sets. Their third year in the NBA saw them flourish on playoff contenders (or better, in Caleb’s case) and each enters free agency with the toolkit to enhance teams in a variety of ways.
It should be noted that both are restricted free agents, meaning the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat can opt to bring them back if they please. The Hornets are in an especially advantageous position to retain Cody, given they have his bird rights. The Heat do not have Caleb’s bird rights, however.
Regardless, they’d bring some two-way spunk to a Sixers squad sorely missing any sort of wing depth. Danny Green is on the mend for a while after tearing his ACL in May. Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz are around, but their Philadelphia futures seem potentially murky and they present their own limitations. Behind them, there aren’t any proven options to provide minutes on the wing.
Cody and Caleb are not flawless players, nor are they ideally starters, but they’re intriguing options on the free agent market with clear pathways to improve the Sixers. Though not inseparable, their games are assuredly similar, so the aim is to illuminate the crossovers and distinctions.
Off the catch, both attack downhill with power, savvy and body control. Compared to Cody (32.3 percent from deep through three seasons, less versatility), Caleb’s the superior shooter (quicker release, 36.3 percent), meaning he more often elicits hastier closeouts. Yet Cody probably has more flair and dynamism when he elects to put the ball on the deck — though that’s a soft stance from me.
On the whole, though, they’re legitimate threats to strike against tilted defenses and routinely set up drives with pacing, footwork and craft. They shot 65 percent (Cody, 61st percentile) and 70 percent (Caleb, 78th percentile) at the rim last season, per Cleaning The Glass. The Sixers rostered many floor-spacers in their 2021-22 rotation, but not many players who could function well if run off the line — Tyrese Maxey was really the lone one who could get to the rim and thrive in those scenarios. The Martin twins can too, even if their shooting prowess lags well behind, say Green’s or Georges Niang’s.
Dating back to their collegiate days at NC State and Nevada, Caleb’s long held the edge as a scorer, which is reflected in his off-ball shooting and spurts of creation. He’s not someone you want to flood with ball-screens, though he certainly holsters the nitrous to initiate from a standstill on occasion. Plus, he’s a heady relocator for open triples, particularly along the baseline, and he’s willing to hoist with a hand in his grill.
His 41.3 percent clip beyond the arc last season is likely an outlier, but I feel confident he’s a quality NBA shooter. Nearly 40 percent of his career 2-pointers are unassisted as well. With the attention and caliber of assignments Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey will command, there’s ample room for Caleb to find opportunities and showcase these multifaceted talents.
Where Cody differentiates himself from Caleb offensively is as a playmaker. Cody is a wonderful connective passer and ran point guard in college; his cadence in pick-and-rolls, usually on the second-side, reveal that experience. Snappy in his delivery as a facilitator, he’s prompt in capitalizing amid advantageous positions and regularly recognizes how to maintain an advantage.
Ball-handling at the guard position beyond Harden and Maxey was a weakness for Philadelphia in 2021-22. Despite not being a high-volume creator, Martin could help alleviate that to a degree as someone at least capable of dribbling in a pinch and whose passing is clearly a strong suit.
Cody’s somewhat shaky handle and jumper raise concerns about his offensive utility separate from cutting if the three-ball regresses and impacts the aggression of closeouts against him. But he’s such a perceptive passer, delightful transition play-finisher, and cutter (Caleb also meets the latter two labels), all of which can help him carve out a notable rotation spot in the event his jumper waffles.
Even when he shot 25.2 percent from deep over his first two years, he still earned playing time in Charlotte. That largely stems from his malleable defense and aforementioned offensive aptitude. Equipped with strength and mobility, Cody can scale across a few positions on the ball — a trait the Sixers would welcome. Caleb is better on the ball, applying his size more consistently than his brother to frustrate creators and warping around screens to stay attached.
Meanwhile, Cody is best utilized off the ball. Deploying him to roam and pursue activity optimizes his defensive services. He’s good on the ball, yet his awareness in help and nimble hands are borderline elite. Despite playing just 26 minutes a night, he ranked 40th in deflections per game (2.3), according to NBA.com. He battles against bigger dudes and absorbs contact well.
Many of the clips include on-ball sequences before flowing into off-ball responsibilities, where Cody remains a nuisance for the offense. He’s also an excellent transition defender and operates with an incessant motor, the latter of which Caleb also boasts.
Cody’s offense can be fickle, but the defense is tremendous in an array of manners. It’s easy to understand how he fits on a good team like the Sixers, especially given their perimeter defense foibles. Charlotte’s dearth of positive defenders left him overextended rather often. Philadelphia would certainly be an upgrade for him in that regard and his wide-ranging contributions fit snugly on this club.
Last season, the Sixers were missing two-way strength, along with positional versatility on defense. To varying degrees, Cody and Caleb check off those boxes. Cody gets the nod as a passer and off-ball defender, while Caleb is the better shooter/scorer and point-of-attack stopper.
Neither may actually hit the market, but they’re complementary wings whose repertoires are logical acquisitions for Philadelphia. If the opportunity arises, kicking the tires on the 26-year-old twins from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a prudent decision this summer.