It is finally the day of the 2022 NBA Draft, and now it’s time to finish looking at the guys in contention for the Pistons’ 5th pick with the three guys most linked to Detroit in Bennedict Mathurin, Jaden Ivey, and Keegan Murray.
Rather than going in-depth as I did with the other guys in this series, I will refer you all to the fantastic articles written about each individual player by our amazing staff as they all did an incredible job analyzing each player’s game. The main focus here will be threefold: 1) What is the Pitch for drafting the player in question?; 2) What are Positive Attributes the player brings to the Pistons?; and finally, 3) What are the Red Flags that could deter Troy Weaver from making the player in question a Detroit Piston.
Let’s get started!
The Pitch: JUST DRAFT THE ATHLETE!
Positive Attributes: Get’s to the free-throw line, can outrun a ton of defenders, brings the energy with those dunks
Red Flags: Shooting got worse as the year went on, no midrange game, needs the ball in his hands to be at his most effective
My comp for Jaden Ivey on offense all season has been PEAK Victor Oladipo. If you do not know what that looks like, then go look at games and stats from Dipo’s time on the Indiana Pacers. He is a big-time athlete who constantly gets to the free-throw line, works as a secondary playmaker, and is armed with a solid three-point shot to keep defenses honest. Pair him with a top-notch point guard in Cade Cunningham who can handle the primary playmaking duties and space the floor more for him and Ivey would be a great complement to Cade.
Unfortunately, the Oladipo comp is NOT apropos on defense where Ivey is a mixed bag. As Scott said very well in his article on Ivey, “he is clearly and obviously athletic enough to be ‘fine’ on the defensive end, despite his current shortcomings, if his offense is good enough to earn him a starting role.” Ivey doesn’t have great awareness off the ball, does not stay engaged in man-to-man defense, and to me always looks like a lesser athlete on defense as he does on offense. But, I do point to Scott’s words here because he is fantastic on offense, then the defensive stuff might not be that big of a deal as long as Ivey is average.
I don’t want to just bag on Ivey here, but my honest opinion is he is the one out of the three contenders I have the MOST concerns about on this Pistons team. For starters, his jump shot is not as good as advertised. In his first 18 games this past season, Ivey shot a stellar 42.4% from three. In his final 18 games, however, he shot an abysmal 29.8% from three. Even when you extend that range of games out to include JUST the games in the Calendar year 2022 Ivey’s three-point percentage is 30.8%. I’ve also heard the argument that Ivey was underutilized at Purdue and should be given more opportunities with the ball in his hands in the NBA, but he posted a 28.7% usage rate which indicates he had the ball in his hands a lot.
These two things in his offense along with his defensive issues are why I have major concerns with Ivey as Cade’s backcourt partner of the future. If Ivey needs the ball in his more AND he cannot consistently space the floor, then I am all the way out on Jaden Ivey for the Detroit Pistons. I do not want someone that requires the team to take the ball out of Cade’s hands more in order to develop while also having almost no supplementary skills keep defenses off Cade. Ivey has to BOTH be able to shoot the 3 enough to keep defenders off Cade AND being the point of attack defender that takes on opposing point guards.
Now, I AM NOT SAYING JADEN IVEY CAN’T DO THIS, just to be clear. What I am saying is of the three guys here most linked to the Pistons he is the one whose scouting profile has the most damaging red flags to the MotorCade if they do no improve. To go back to the Oladipo comp, that is a perfect shooting guard to pair with Cade if Ivey’s defense ends up even half of what Oladipo’s was, but if the red flags don’t improve then we are talking a Dion Waiters type of player (I just mean in skill only to be perfectly clear and not all the other baggage associated with Waiters).
As we all have said since his arrival in Detroit, In Troy We Trust, so I think if Ivey does end up in a Detroit hat on draft night, then the defense and shooting is something Mr. Weaver knows Coach Casey and his staff can iron out.
The Pitch: Marcus Morris or Tobias Harris at the very LEAST
Positive Attributes: Great shooter, Gets Buckets in a variety of situations, Cares about defense
Red Flags: The worst athlete of the three guys listed here, shows some defensive limitations, limited ball-handler and playmaker
As Brady so eloquently laid out in his article, Murray is a professional scorer. He will get you buckets from just about anywhere. Just look at his shot chart and you get a great idea of just how fantastic of a scorer Murray really is.
Again, as Brady said in regards to Murray’s defense he is not the best, but far from the worst. A power forward in the NBA, Murray displays good off-ball skills and the ability to guard 4s and some 5s in man-to-man. Personally, I would keep him away from guarding guys like LeBron and PG as they will see he is step or two slower than them when they watch his film. It is clear he also wants to be a good defender with his effort level and desire to get in anyone and everyone’s grill when they line up opposite him.
While I think Murray is going to be a fine pro, I have heard both Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris as his comps, and I have never quite shook those every time I watched Murray because it is incredibly easy to see both in Murray’s game. Both guys are solid and have had long successful careers…but at the 5th pick, I personally want to take a bigger swing. Murray’s upside is clouded by his average ball-handling ability and limited court vision. Posting a 10.1% assist percentage is something that will make teams develop Murray without the ball in his hands and ball-handling to me is THE HARDEST skill to predict improvement with because I could not even name you one guy off the top of my head with Murray’s limited ball-handling and passing that ended up being a primary or secondary option in the Association.
This is not to say Murray has NO upside, Tobias after all has been the second option for Clipper and 76er teams that made it into the playoffs. Murray did also post an unbelievably low 5.7% turnover rate despite having the ball so much. And if the team did end up selecting Keegan Murray, he falls into a category for me of “You Can’t Get Mad At” because he is just a solid basketball player it is near impossible to envision being a complete bust.
The Pitch: Quite Possibly the Perfect Backcourt Mate for Cade
Positive Attributes: Horizontal AND Vertical Spacing, Mis-match guard defender, Legit Playmaking Upside
Red Flags: Ball Handling may limit him to a role player, Off-ball defense noticeably behind his man-to-man skills, Court Vision could stagnate
I end with Bennedict Mathurin because I think he blends the strengths of Ivey and Murray while ALMOST erasing their red flags and why he has been linked with the Pistons the closer we got to Draft night. As Jack began his article, Mathurin has plenty of translatable skills as a rookie. A career 38.3% three-point shooter in his two-year career at the University of Arizona, Mathurin did so on a 47.1% three-point attempt rate. This a good indicator of his overall game because it shows balance to not just be a three-point specialist while also not posting good percentages from deep on a low volume of attempts. He also made major strides as a playmaker this season going from just 30 assists in his freshman season to 94 this past year. He is also a good vertical athlete with the ability to drop the hammer at any time and over anyone.
Defensively Mathurin is a great man-to-man defender that still has lots of work to do off the ball. As a point of attack defender, Mathurin will get in your face and use his six-foot six-inch frame and six-foot nine-inch wingspan to disrupt opposing guards and wings. His athleticism continues to show here as well as he stays attached to everyone and will fight through screens to keep the opposition disrupted. Off the ball, though, he gets watching the ball too much and is slow to process what is happening too often. This is something a coaching staff will have to work on immediately to get Mathurin to understand positioning, his role, and overall more team defensive concepts.
Mathurin’s ball-handling and playmaking are also solid, but not someone who currently profiles as a reliable secondary scorer. The handle may be less of an issue as he is not turnover prone posting a low 10.4% turnover rate and you don’t see him stagnating when he does attack off the dribble. He also led Arizona in free throw attempts with 178 and, in my opinion, shows the handle is better than people think because as a guard you simply cannot get the line that much if you are an off-ball player. Mathurin’s playmaking is more of the issue as it is average right now, and could just stay where it’s at. 13.8% assist rate in low for a guard and Mathurin’s main role was floor spacer and dunker on this Arizona team—a trend that could continue in the NBA if a team just becomes enamored with these two skills.
If all Mathurin did was shoot threes and dunk, that’s still an awesome NBA player, but if the playmaking never comes around then we are talking about the difference between someone like Terrence Ross and Zach LaVine. Just to be clear, I am not saying these are my comps for Mathurin, but just making the point that I believe if he can’t develop his passing, then this will be the difference between whether he is a specialist like Ross or a consistent starter like LaVine. Both guys are walking dunk contests like Mathurin, but a big difference in their career trajectories is their ability to develop in ways other than shooting threes and dunking.
My ACTUAL comp for Mathurin is Athletic Desmond Bane. Mathurin ran similar actions at Arizona to what the Memphis Grizzlies do with Bane. Bane also did not come in with the ability to be a secondary creator due to perceived limitations in his ball-handling and court vision, but continues to develop both along the way to give Memphis a great option to Ja Morant at the other guard spot. And the added bonus for Mathurin is he has explosiveness and verticality that benefits him on both ends of the court.
Cade would be able to feed Mathurin for spot-up threes and lobs off the ball while Mathurin can drive into the teeth of the defense to draw contact or extra attention for drive and kicks back to Cade on the ball. Mathurin can also start off on defense focusing just on being the primary point of attack defender on defense that takes on opposing point guards to keep Cade from having to chase them night-in and night-out. Really, as was said on the most recent Pistons Pulse Podcast, Mathurin would seemingly be the bridge to unify opposing side of Pistons Draft Twitter because these perfect blend of skills sprinkled in with enough upside that he could be the next part that helps get the MotorCade running at peak performance.
Thank you as always for reading all of our content here and for another fantastic Draft SZN! Let us know who you want the Pistons to take with the 5th pick in the comments here. Here’s to Grim Weaver and what I am sure is his favorite time of year just as it is mine. #InTroyWeTrust