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Miami Heat 2021-22 player review: Caleb Martin

Martin, 25, blossomed in his first season with the Heat.

Utah Jazz v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Welcome back to our player review series. Amid us deep-diving into the draft and everything regarding the future of the organization, we’re discussing the seasons for Miami Heat players that played in the 2021-22 NBA season who finished on the active roster — regardless of their impending status entering 2022-23.

This will be our eighth thus far — we’ve reviewed Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Dewayne Dedmon, Udonis Haslem, Tyler Herro, Haywood Highsmith and Kyle Lowry. Today, we will be reviewing Caleb Martin, who the Miami Heat brain trust found as a two-way gem last offseason.

Let’s jump into it!

Brief overview (60 games):

  • 9.2 points
  • 3.8 rebounds
  • 1.1 assists
  • 50.7 field goal percentage
  • 41.3 3-point percentage
  • 61.1 true shooting percentage
  • 14.8 player efficiency rating

Martin signed with the Heat on a two-way contract just weeks after getting cut by the Charlotte Hornets last August, done to create room for the newly-signed Kelly Oubre Jr. Martin shined in his opportunity, eventually getting a well-deserved standard contract mid-way through the season. His high-flying athleticism, defensive instincts and improved shot quickly made him a fan- and organizational-favorite.

Best game?

Dec. 8 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Martin led the Heat to a 113-104 nationally-televised victory over the then reigning champions without Bam Adebayo or Jimmy Butler, scoring 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting with six 3-pointers, in addition to eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Numbers to note?

69.5 - Martin had his most efficient season at the cup, netting 121 of his 174 rim attempts — a 69.5 percent clip — which is, by far, the best mark of his career. In his first two seasons, albeit with much lower volume, Martin made 51.8 percent of his attempts at the rim. He flashed plenty of on-ball half-court rim pressure with excellent body control to finish over bigger and more athletic defenders. He wasn’t very productive as a cutter, but was also one of Miami’s most deadly transition lob threats and slashers in open space.

2.1 - Martin tallied 2.1 steals per 100 possessions, third-best among Heat players who played at least 1,000 minutes last season. The two above him? Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Pretty good company, huh? Martin was one of Miami’s top defensive energizers — even with being on a team full of sound, animated team defenders. He excelled at getting his hands in the passing lanes, as well as anticipate where opposing ball-handlers shift on-the-ball to generate steals that oftentimes led to easy buckets at the other end.

What’s next?

This will be Martin’s first offseason entering free agency. Here is what Martin said during his exit interview:

“I want to be here [in Miami]. I got better here ... I feel like my team and staff believe in me and feel I’ll get better here.

“I feel like I can be one of those guys that fluctuates whatever a team needs from me. If you need a guy to come off the bench, bring energy and do that stuff — I can do that; I feel like I can step in and start. It doesn’t matter what the role is and what a team needs from me, I feel like I can fill that void. My game expanded shooting-wise, being more efficient and consistent ... I feel like I took big steps and I feel like I’m only going to take larger steps going forward.”

In summary, signs obviously point to Martin wanting to return to Miami. I don’t think that’s a question.

Miami extended him the $2.08 million qualifying offer Tuesday, making him a restricted free agent. Signing the QO means he’d be on a one-year, $2.08 contract and will be an unrestricted agent in 2023.

In all likelihood, Miami gets forced to match an offer sheet from another team, it re-signs Martin beginning at $2.14 million with his non-bird rights or it re-signs him to the minimum. It could also forfeit their bi-annual exception ($4.1M) or eat into its non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception ($10.3M). The former hard-caps the team, as well as using the full NTMLE — meaning they could not exceed the (projected) ~$155.1 million tax apron at any point throughout the next league year. They could, however, re-sign him for less than the taxpayer’s portion ($6.4M) of the NTMLE in order to avoid the hard-cap.

Using either the BAE or the NTMLE isn’t the ideal route because it limits the flexibility the Heat have to acquire other assets, so I expect those to be the final resorts if it wants to retain Martin. Nevertheless, I’ve previously made my case on why they should re-sign him. I still stand by it. Now the ball’s in Miami’s court. Amid plenty other decisions the franchise must make, Martin is one of them.