3 Takeaways from Indiana Pacers preseason loss to Memphis Grizzlies

Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Pacers preseason, Jarace Walker
Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Pacers preseason, Jarace Walker /
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Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Young guns continue development

While the new guys and rookies had very promising debut performances, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the vets and young guys, and boy, did they show out.

This was highlighted by Bennedict Mathurin, who seemed to pick up right where he left off last season and even improved in many aspects.

Following a promising rookie season, the main concerns about Mathurin were his ball-handling abilities and whether or not he could become a good playmaker. By the looks of it, those worries could be quenched, especially based on his performance against Memphis.

Not only was Mathurin his usual, productive self on the offensive end with 18 points (7/13 FG, 2/5 3PT, 2/2 FT), but he made strides with his ball-handling and playmaking.

While Mathurin only had two assists on the night and had three turnovers to go with them, he indeed showed flashes of a guy who can average closer to four to five assists if given the chance.

Some plays he made left me genuinely shocked that this was the same guy who was struggling to create off the dribble last year, even if his teammates didn’t convert the shots.

Mathurin excelled at the little things against Memphis, including making the extra pass, driving into contact, not forcing the issue, and feeling the game way better than he did his rookie year.

Of course, what would Bennedict Mathurin be without his trademark fearlessness? He had to go at Jaren Jackson Jr. at least once and converted this tough finish on the reigning Defensive Player of the Year as a result.


Mathurin also showed off some impressive footwork, as he converted a layup off a lovely Euro step following a block by Myles Turner.


Mathurin’s jumper also looked great, as he hit a couple of threes, including this one off a dribble pull-up that reminded Indiana Pacers fans of when Victor Oladipo would step up and hit a three right in a defender’s face.


If Mathurin keeps up this level of play during the regular season, the sky’s the limit for him, and he may even avoid hitting that dreaded ‘sophomore slump’ that many of his peers are also probably aware of.


In addition to Mathurin, the other young guys also performed well, as Jordan Nwora came off the bench for seven points, including some impressive jumpers and some much-improved defense, as he ended the night with a steal and a block to his name.


Speaking of defense, Aaron Nesmith continued to be his usual, productive self on that end of the floor. He ended the night with two steals and a block, one of which led to instant offense from Jarace Walker.

Nesmith also displayed that trademark fearlessness that led to him dunking on Jarrett Allen last season. However, the results were a bit different when he tried to catch Jaren Jackson Jr. off guard.

Jalen Smith was another young player who performed well, which was a little bit of a relief considering how his last season with Indiana went. After years of being nicknamed ‘Stix’ due to his rail-thin physique, Smith seemed to put on quite a bit of weight and bulked up, and this helped him during the game and will definitely continue to help him during the season.

This added bulk may have also helped him hit the game-tying shot at the end of the fourth quarter with 3.2 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

It is vital to know that Indiana is going in the direction of a full youth movement this season, with the average age of the team being just under 25 years old and the projected starting lineup for the upcoming season being 24.6 years old.

These strides made by the young players are excellent signs for the upcoming season as Indiana looks for their first playoff berth since the 2019-20 season.