The Denver Nuggets are one series away from playing in the NBA Finals. Denver has proved why they deserve to be in the Western Conference Finals as they came back from 3-1 in the first and second rounds. The Nuggets have had many talented players throughout their history.
One player, in particular, is Kenyon Martin who was a part of the last Nuggets team that played in the Western Conference Finals.
Kenyon Martin becoming a top NBA prospect while in college
Martin attended the University of Cincinnati, where he went on to have a lot of success. During his senior year, he averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. Cincinnati was ranked No. 1 in college basketball for 12 weeks during Martin’s senior season. In 2000, Martin was named the National Player of the Year, NABC Defensive Player of the Year, and the Conference USA Player of the Year.
He is Cincinnati’s all-time leader in career block shots (292) and field goal percentage (.586). Martin dominated in the paint, and that’s where he excelled in college. Whether he was on offense or defense, Martin made sure that you felt his presence on the court. His impressive senior season allowed him to draw interest from many NBA teams. Going into the NBA draft, Martin was projected to be the top pick.
Kenyon Martin drafted No. 1 overall by the New Jersey Nets
The Nets selected Martin with the first overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft. As of 2019, Martin is the last American-born college senior to be the top overall pick in the NBA draft. During his rookie season with the Nets, he put up impressive numbers. He averaged 12 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. Martin was named to the All-Rookie First Team and finished second in voting for the Rookie of the Year.
During his time in New Jersey, he started each season and was named an All-Star in 2004. That season he averaged 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals. Martin was a key player on the Nets team that made it to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. The Nets were the best team in the Eastern Conference when Martin played there and his presence on the court helped the team out a lot. Martin spent his first four seasons playing for the Nets.
Kenyon Martin joining the Denver Nuggets and making an impact
After his time with the Nets, Martin was traded to the Nuggets. During his time in Denver, Martin dealt with injuries with his knee. In his first season in Denver, he averaged 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds. Toward the end of the season, he underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee. Martin made the playoffs six times playing with the Nuggets.
The Nuggets were one of the top teams in the Western Conference, and Martin was a top player on the team during his time there. Martin was a big man that Denver needed, and he fitted well in their starting lineup. From blocking shots to crashing boards, Martin made his presence felt on the court. He made an impact during his time in Denver.
Martin finished his career playing a year in China and then returned to the NBA and played for the LA Clippers, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks. Martin’s son, Kenyon Jr., declared for the 2020 NBA draft after playing at IMG Academy.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference