Bennedict Mathurin doesn’t seem to be sitting at the top of anybody’s list. He’s not the best scorer in the draft class, the most NBA ready, the most polished, the top defender or the most athletic. When you float the name of Mathurin as a potential pick at No. 5 for the Detroit Pistons, the universal reaction seems to be, “yeah, sure.”
There is this sense that selecting Mathurin means you’re not willing to take the home run swing like you would be if you selected mystery man Shaedon Sharpe. Picking Mathurin also seems to offend those who salivate over Jaden Ivey’s athleticism, and hitching your wagon to Bennedict will get a tsk tsk from those armed with the analytics that showcase just how potent a force Keegan Murray was at Iowa.
So why am I taking Mathurin fifth in the SB Nation Mock Draft? Because he explodes to the rim, he has this beautiful, natural high arc to his 3-point shot that makes it nearly unblockable, he is an excellent cutter who seems like he could absolutely feast off of the kind of looks Cade Cunningham can create for him, and he has the size, strength and length to become an impact player on the defensive end of the floor.
If the primary mission is to grab a young player who could be a perfect complement to Cunningham then Mathurin is your guy. If you ask me his upside isn’t that far off from a player like Sharpe, it’s just that the elusive, mysterious nature of Shaedon, with a lack of nationally televised game and time away from organized ball means he’s a mystery box everyone wants to open.
Mathurin might be a sophomore, but he’s younger than Chet Holmgren and just five months older than Paolo Banchero. Murray is more of a known product with a high likelihood of at least finding success as a scorer at the NBA level.
Bit Mathurin has a sneaky high upside that nobody is talking about. In a league where everyone wants two-way wings that can shoot from the perimeter, finish in traffic and showcase some secondary playmaking ability, Mathurin checks all the boxes.
He shot over 40% from deep at 8 3s per 100 possessions, and while that dipped slightly to 37% as a sophomore, it should be noted that Mathurin is not simply a catch-and-shoot specialist. Bennedict takes extremely difficult looks in NBA-style actions including off of dribble handoffs, coming off of screens and off the dribble.
He’s a movement shooter and knocks them down at a high right on high volume. His shot is also something worth investing in. From the waist and above you see everything you want. A natural, smooth motion that transitions into a high-arcing look. Below the waist there are some issues. Mathurin takes a long time to get into his motion, and while it’s consistent you’d love to speed it up to make him even more dangerous on the perimeter.
But he doesn’t only score from the perimeter. Mathurin has a healthy .369 free-throw rate and attempted 174 shots defined as close 2s by bartorvik.com, where he shot 63%. Compare that to the more highly touted Ivey, who had a free-throw rate of .470 and 172 shots at the rim where he shot 67.9%. Ivey might be getting all the headlines, and his explosiveness is the real deal, but there’s no shame in trailing Ivey in athleticism among potential lottery picks.
And one thing Mathurin has that the other contenders for the fifth pick don’t have — Ivey, Murray, Sharpe, AJ Griffin — is huge upside as a defender. He’s not always locked in, but it’s not uncommon for young players to be inconsistent on the defensive end. He’s got the size and wingspan as a shooting guard to be disruptive and handle his business on switches well enough.
He’s also aced the pre-draft process coming in with rave reviews after interviews, individual workouts and for his effectiveness and competitiveness in 3-on-3 settings. he certainly seems like a Troy Weaver type player. And he’d be great playing alongside Cade and could be a big piece of a bright future.