LeBron fans may have to concede that Pacers’ Bennedict Mathurin is better

Bennedict Mathurin (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Bennedict Mathurin (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Earlier this summer, Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin said that Lebron James would have to prove that he was better than Mathurin. It was a laughable statement at the time given that The King is definitively one of the best players to ever pick up a basketball.

Yet, the early results that Mathurin is putting onto the stat sheet tell a story quite their own. Mathurin has been sensational early and looks to be a perfect pairing with Indiana Pacers cornerstone Tyrese Haliburton. We are relying on a small sample size, but let’s take a look at Mathurin’s numbers themselves.

The numbers prove that Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin has been relatively better than LeBron James

Bennedict Mathurin through 11 games: 20.4 points, 5.9 free throws attempted, 2.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 46% field goal shooting, 44% from deep.

Lebron James through 11 games in his rookie season: 16.8 points, 3.8 free throws attempted, 6.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 38% field goal shooting, 26% from deep.

Some might walk away from those numbers and conclude that Mathurin is merely a scorer, while Lebron was doing more things, such as creating and rebounding. They would suggest Lebron was showing a more well-rounded play style, while Mathurin is just a scorer.

And they would be right in one sense. Lebron’s size and skill are nearly unmatched throughout all of NBA history. To be able to have the driving potential, shooting, and court vision that Lebron has, especially at his forward size, which has allowed Lebron to have mismatches all over the court for decades.

However, there is one key difference between the stat lines above and it revolves around the rate at which the two players accumulated those statistics. Lebron was playing significantly more minutes through his first 11 games.

You see, it took Lebron over 12 minutes longer per game to get these numbers in his first 11 games.

If you adjust Mathurin’s numbers to compensate for the difference in playing time, normalizing them to Lebron’s playing time early in his career, you get:

Adjusted Bennedict Mathurin through 11 games: 29.5 points, 8.5 free throws attempted, 3.2 assists, and 5 rebounds.

The comparison looks even more intriguing now, with Mathurin scoring at a significantly higher clip (+12 points) than James did early in his career. While Mathurin still has lower assist totals and rebounds, the comparison begins to not look as far-fetched as it seemed this past summer. Especially given the shooting percentages Mathurin has seen to date.

While it is incredibly unlikely Mathurin will ever have even near the career that Lebron has had, if he can sustain and live up to these early numbers, the future is certainly bright for the newest member of the Indiana Pacers.

Next. The Pacers must avoid doing this team's suicidal move. dark