The Indiana Pacers have a chance to make some serious noise this season, and a big part of that will be the development of second-year wing Bennedict Mathurin.
Last season, Mathurin burst onto the scene with an impressive rookie season. He began the season coming off the bench but eventually worked his way into the starting lineup.
Now, he’s slated to be a regular member of the Pacers’ starting five alongside Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, Bruce Brown, and Obi Toppin, all of whom will be put in the team’s first five for the first preseason game.
Bennedcic Mathurin focusing on 1 main goal during Pacers training camp
But during training camp and throughout the year, Bennedict Mathurin will be keeping his focus on one area – defense. He believes that becoming a two-way player is crucial for his progression and the improvement of the Pacers as a whole. (H/t Akeem Glaspie of the Indianapolis Star)
“It means playing defense and offense. … Taking every possession like it was the last one,” Mathurin said. “I’ve watched film a lot this summer and tried to try to improve my weaknesses. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job, so I’m confident going into this year.”
Mathurin was a lethal scorer for the Pacers last season, but his play on the defensive end left some room for questions. He’s determined to change that narrative.
And if the Pacers want to have a competitive season in a strong Eastern Conference, he’ll have to make those improvements. Indiana will have to make strides on defense.
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle also noted his confidence in Mathurin’s ability to become a plus defender heading into next year.
“Benn Mathurin has the ability to be a high-level two-way player in this league,” Carlisle said. “He made strides defensively, made strides this summer. It’s gonna be very important for his career and for our organization, franchise that he gets there.”
At just 21 years old, Mathurin still has plenty of room to grow as a player, and he fits the timeline of the rest of the Pacers. Haliburton is 23 years old, Jarace Walker is 20, Obi Toppin is 25, and even Turner is still only 27.
With Carlisle at the helm and Mathurin committed to improving his play on the defensive end, things are looking up for the Pacers.