1. Bennedict Mathurin
Let’s start off on a positive note.
Coming into the league with relatively high expectations that were bolstered by some comments he made about LeBron James that immediately endeared him to Indiana Pacers fans, Bennedict Mathurin impressed enough in his rookie season to make the All-Rookie First Team and convince Pacers fans that they could have a new dynamic duo on their hands with Mathurin and Haliburton.
As the season went on, however, Mathurin’s weaknesses started to become more evident, as he struggled with efficiency, playmaking, and ball control, leaving him prone to ill-advised turnovers and shots when the smarter option may be to give up the ball to a teammate. It was pretty clear what Mathurin needed to work on in the offseason.
And work on it he did, as in the preseason, Mathurin showed a more refined and mature playstyle.
Now taking smarter shots and being far more willing to make the extra pass than before, Mathurin basically transformed his game over a single summer, and Pacers fans are very excited for what the future holds.
It is not just his playmaking and passing that has improved, however, as Mathurin has become a far more capable defender on and off the ball, putting him on track to be one of the NBA’s brightest two-way stars.
Another thing that should help Mathurin this upcoming season is his new role. During his rookie season, Rick Carlisle would, sometimes ill-advisedly, have Mathurin come off the bench for most of the season, despite his obvious starter-level play.
This year, however, Mathurin has been named the full-time starting small forward on the wings alongside Bruce Brown, which should help his play improve tremendously, given more time on the court with Tyrese Haliburton to let the dynamic duo work their magic.
As we know, many second-year players hit the dreaded “sophomore slump,” and Mathurin is looking to avoid that in any way possible. By the looks of it, he is succeeding. Indiana is expecting big things from the 21-year-old out of Montreal.