Caleb Martin: My New Lord and Savior

Caleb Martin got absolutely jipped out of the Eastern Conference Finals MVP.

Obviously there was never a doubt in anyone’s mind that someone other than Jimmy Butler would take home the Larry Bird Trophy, but if you go back and look at the series as a whole, it’s pretty evident that Martin deserved it.

Let’s put aside the fact that over the last four games Jimmy shot 38% from the field and 31% from three-point range, and just talk about Martin.

During the regular season, Caleb Martin was a role player averaging under 10 points a game in just about 30 minutes of gameplay. While not poor numbers by any means, putting up a consistent 9-4-2 is never going to get anyone into the All-Star Game, let alone the NBA Finals. Yet, when Jimmy and Bam went cold and the Heat needed some sort of spark, Martin prevailed.

Shooting over 60% from the field and close to 50% from three during the series, Martin averaged 19.3 point per game with over 6 rebounds per game as well. He was a guy whose main job was to hit 2-3 threes per game and ended up with three 20+ point performances and two double-doubles. He showed up when no one else would and was the only bright spot during Miami’s darkest three games.

If you watched just ten minutes of this entire series, I’m sure you’ve heard at least a hundred times that Martin as well as the majority of this Heat squad were undrafted coming into the league. While that is an impressive feat, Martin’s journey should be put into a little more perspective. Caleb and his brother Cody Martin were standout players at the University of Nevada from 2017-2019. Despite both sharing very similar natural talents and impressive college resumes, Cody went on to be drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in the second round, while Caleb went undrafted. After the draft, he signed a one-year two-way contract with the Hornets and spent most of his time in the G-League or on the bench. The next season, he remained with Hornets, playing 15 minutes a night and averaging 5 points per game. He then got cut in the summer of 2021.

With not many teams pursuing him, Caleb was forced to take a minimum contract from Miami and play a two-way season for just over $500,000. A role-player at best, Martin was not even activated for the Heat’s 2022 ECF Game 7 against the Celtics — coach’s decision.

Exactly one year later, Martin plays the most minutes for the Heat and capitalizes with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and a win in Boston. While it may not have been all Caleb Martin, he was most definitely the ignition for the Heat when everyone else was off their marks.

Whether or not Martin deserved the ECF MVP no longer matters. What does matter is his performance in the Finals as well as his upcoming bag. While currently in the first year of his three year $20 million contract, Martin has a player option after next season. If he keeps up his play, which I am confident he will, I fully expect Martin to get Jaylen Brown money the summer of 2024.

For now though, all that is on Martin’s mind will be carrying Jimmy and the Heat to a championship. Get your Caleb Martin Finals MVP bets in now because this intensity is not going to be put out. Caleb Martin is an absolute dog and he is not finished letting the entire world know.

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Written by Alex Becker

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