2. Bennedict Mathurin’s playmaking improvements
While we’re on the subject of young players that haven’t missed a beat, let’s take a moment to talk about Bennedict Mathurin’s improvements over the offseason, specifically his playmaking.
In his rookie season, one of the main gripes with Mathurin’s play was his lack of ability to find the open man at times. Sometimes he would throw an errant pass out of bounds or into the opposing team’s hands, and sometimes he would skip out on the pass altogether and try to take it himself.
However, those issues seem to be gone now, as Mathurin looks way more comfortable passing the ball than he did in the past season, regardless of it being only the preseason.
For one, Mathurin helped set up one of the best plays of the night, ending a fast break with a one-handed lob to Obi Toppin for a slam, reminiscent of what Tyrese Haliburton and Toppin are most likely gearing up for during the season.
But it wasn’t just the flashy plays that stood out. It was Mathurin’s willingness to pass altogether that made the difference. He is starting to grow exponentially as a playmaker and is already making passes in the preseason that would most likely be a forced shot a year prior.
Even if they don’t result in points, the fact that Mathurin is making these passes shows how much of a leap he has taken in just one offseason, and what Pacers fans can come to expect from the second-year guard out of Arizona this upcoming season.
If Mathurin continues to develop his playmaking ability in addition to his already fantastic scoring, he will be even more of a force in this league and may even avoid hitting that “sophomore slump” that is dreaded by most second-year players.
Mathurin “only” had four assists vs Atlanta, but he made every single one of them count, and showed real secondary ballhandler potential for some possible future Rick Carlisle lineups for specific situations.