When the Indiana Pacers selected Bennedict Mathurin with the sixth pick in the 2022 draft, the franchise made one of its best decisions in recent history.
Mathurin took the NBA by storm with a magnificent rookie season, averaging 16.7 points in 28.5 minutes per game. The talented shooting guard primarily played a sixth-man role for Indiana, playing 61 games off the bench and only 17 as a starter.
But according to Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, that bench role is about to change.
Indiana Pacers GM Chad Buchanan seemingly names Bennedict Mathurin as starter heading into training camp
When asked by Pacers media about whether Bennedict Mathurin will start or not, Buchanan gave a simple response.
"“I think training camp will determine that, but I think going into right now, that’s probably where he’s going to begin. It’s up for grabs once we get on the court.”"
Last season, Mathurin excelled when given extended minutes. In 35 games with 30-plus minutes, the 21-year-old posted an impressive 20.4 points per game. He also scored double-digit points in 64 of his 78 contests despite some inconsistent playing time.
Mathurin has also developed some fantastic chemistry with Tyrese Haliburton. According to Tony East of Sports Illustrated, the Pacers boasted a +1.0 net rating when Mathurin and Haliburton shared the court. Indy’s offense with the duo was “unbelievable and scored more than 120 points per 100 possessions,” per East.
Needless to say, Mathurin and Haliburton play well off of each other. Mathurin’s knack for drawing contact and scoring with physicality gives Haliburton a perfect off-ball target in the flow of the Pacers offense. Per 36 minutes, Mathurin ranked 11th in the league in free throw attempts per game. He averaged 5.8 attempts from the charity stripe and sank 82.8%.
Indiana’s two most dominant lineups from last season included the Haliburton-Mathurin duo, and the Pacers seem primed to take full advantage of their youthful backcourt. Even so, Mathurin’s new starting job is not safe just yet.
Buchanan explained to the press that most starting jobs won’t be fully secured until training camp comes to an end.
"“I feel comfortable saying Tyrese will probably start. I think Myles will probably start. I think the rest will be determined over the next month or so.”"
While Mathurin seems like Indy’s best candidate to start at shooting guard next to Haliburton, the young Canadian will compete with players like Buddy Hield and Bruce Brown to open games for Indiana. Andrew Nembhard, who just started 63 games as a rookie, also makes a case.
As the 2023-24 season looms closer for the Pacers, one thing is crystal clear. A spot in the starting backcourt is now Mathurin’s to lose.