For the casual NBA fan, there’s often a really romanticized image of how players make their way to the NBA. They think of the high school star, who excelled in college, before being picked up in the first round of the NBA Draft.
Just like that, the rest is history. Except it isn’t. For most of the league’s superstars, this may well be the case, but the league is also filled with guys like Cartier Martin.Martin signed on with the Detroit Pistons this summer on a two-year deal, that gave the 29-year-old his first true sense of security since he arrived in the league. The first year of his contract is guaranteed, while Martin, himself, has a player option for a second season.
For a guy who has spent the majority of his career on 10-day contracts, that has to mean something. It has to ease the pressure.
Martin spent four years as a Kansas State Wildcat before turning professional. In spite of having scored 1,546 points, to become one of the leading scorers in the school’s history, Martin still went undrafted in 2007.
In the first of many challenges that he would have to overcome to make it to top, Martin wasted no time in finding professional employment elsewhere, and beginning to get his name out there.
The Texas native signed for Antalya BB in Turkey, where he stayed a full season before returning stateside. Upon his return, Martin tried his hand at the D-League, with the first of four eventual spells with the Iowa Energy.
In the D-League, Martin’s eye for a bucket shone through. For his career in the Development League, Martin averaged just more than 18 points per game, but it was the 20.6 points a night that he averaged in his first spell in Iowa that caught the NBA’s attention.
The Charlotte Bobcats liked what they saw, giving Martin a 10-day contract before picking him up for the rest of the season. This is a process that Martin has experienced over and over again during his NBA career.
He’s also been with the Wizards, Hawks and Bulls on 10-day contracts, and of the three, only Chicago haven’t cut and then re-signed him.
In spite of all of this, Martin has managed to carve out an impressive niche for himself as a backup. Last season, in two spells with the Atlanta Hawks, as well as a short stint in Chicago, Martin showcased his adaptability and willingness to compete.
Playing in two completely different systems, Martin looked out of place in neither, constantly offering high level effort, good defensive instincts and reliable 3-point shooting.
This made it no real surprise when Martin was snapped up in the very early days of free agency by Stan Van Gundy, as they are three attributes the Pistons desperately need. At 6″7′, Martin has good size and versatility for a swingman.
He’s skilled enough to play in either wing position, while dealing with the different threats they tend to pose.
Improved 3-point shooting from the wings is going to be one of the Pistons top priorities heading into the new season, and that should suit Martin down to the ground. Martin made 39.1 percent of his 151 3-pointers last year, and it was no fluke either.
The 29-year-old has a career 3-point average of 38.3 percent in the NBA.
Martin’s overall game is defined by his past though. Pistons fans won’t have to worry about him not performing, or quitting on plays, because he’s worked too hard to get to this point in the first place.
That same perseverance shapes Martin’s energy, and allows him to give it his all, even when he’s having an off night.
Cartier Martin isn’t one of the league’s superstars, but he’s earned his right to be here. Now, equipped with genuine job security for the first time as a professional, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him thrive in the Motor City.