Power Forward: Kenyon Martin Jr., Houston Rockets
One of the Bulls’ biggest weaknesses continues to be the fact they lack a true power forward on the roster behind Patrick Williams. Chicago’s ability to deploy a flexible bench unit or even bump Pat up to the small forward slot has been hampered by this roster deficiency ever since he first entered the league. Fortunately, an easy solution for the Bulls exists in the form of Kenyon Martin Jr.
Although he’s a few inches short of the ideal combo forward size, what Martin Jr. lacks in raw size he makes up for with his incredible verticality and sheer athleticism. You don’t have to just take my word for it, but I’m quite confident in my pick to win the dunk contest at this year’s All-Star Break in Utah.
Kenyon Martin Jr. would be one of the highest-impact moves the Chicago Bulls could make on a low budget.
Baby K-Mart is making good on his NBA lineage, as the son of former All-Star and 15-year veteran Kenyon Martin is having the best statistical season of his career. Martin Jr. is averaging 11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 55.6% from the field in 25 minutes per game.
These per-minute stats far exceed anything Chicago’s own Patrick Williams has achieved, for comparison’s sake. However, Martin Jr. has been consistently held back by the frontcourt logjam in Houston. After drafting Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and Alperen Sengun, it’s clear where the Rockets see guiding the future of their team, and it’s not KMJ.
On top of Houston’s three promising prospects, veterans Eric Gordon and Jae’Sean Tate have made it virtually impossible for Martin Jr. to receive a consistent 30 minutes per night, even on the NBA’s worst team. While the Rockets are likely to move on from Gordon sooner rather than later, Tate is an excellent veteran to have around on an extremely team-friendly deal.
Martin Jr., on the other hand, only has one year left on his deal past this season. He simply doesn’t fit Houston’s timeline and will be looking for a big payday when the Rockets have other places they’d like to prioritize their money. The Bulls can afford that issue, however, as they’re built to win now and will likely look to restructure around young talent when their core ages out a year from now. In both scenarios, KMJ is a perfect fit with the Bulls.
If he performs well enough, he even has the potential to become the long-term starter next to Pat. If he struggles, the Bulls can cut their losses without worry. Martin Jr. is the exact type of player who wouldn’t cost an exorbitant amount to acquire, but could vastly outperform his contract on a team that is actually looking to win games now instead of tanking for the future.
Worth Watching: Obi Toppin, PJ Washington, Jonathan Kuminga