“DT? That’s my guy,” Mathurin, the sixth overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, said. “Plays hard all the time. Great team player. Loves winning. He knows how to win also.”
Unlike Mathurin, who is drawing some Sixth Man of the Year buzz and scored 26 points in the Pacers’ comeback victory over the Bulls on Tuesday, Terry only has logged 55 largely mop-up minutes in his rookie season.
In fact, Terry, drafted 18th overall, has mostly been noticed for his sideline support for teammates that features animated mugging for the camera and his playful relationship with veteran DeMar DeRozan. Recently, DeRozan, whom Mathurin also expressed admiration for, jokingly said Terry is going through his “terrible twos” in DeRozan’s exaggerated parental role for the rookie.
But Mathurin insists that whenever Terry does get his opportunity, he will shine.
“He had all the potential to get to the league. But not only to get to the league, to stay in the league,” Mathurin said. “It’s only going to get better from here. I feel like opportunity will come his way because he’s really good defensively. And defense can be a thing for any player to get minutes and trust from the coaching staff.”
Mathurin knows this not only from playing with Terry but playing against him. He said the two often scrimmaged against each other during their freshman seasons at Arizona before teaming up in their shared sophomore seasons that helped produce a 33-4 record.
“Playing against each other really helped both of us,” Mathurin said. “We both had great sophomore seasons. We both got drafted. Obviously, we had different roles. But we both succeeded in our roles and we grew as players and people.”
Indeed, Mathurin averaged a team-high 17.7 points for an Arizona team that also featured Toronto Raptors rookie Christian Koloko. Terry averaged 8 points while making hustle plays and providing defense.
“During the draft process, we had different roles,” Terry said. “With him, everybody knew where he was getting picked up high. I was kind of the underdog and had to work my way up. But when we guarded each other in practice, it was always a battle. He’s someone with a competitive edge who is willing to go back at you.”
Mathurin said Terry owns that same competitive edge. They have talked throughout this season, and Mathurin said Terry remains focused despite not playing much this season.
“Most of the guys who come into the league don’t have minutes. They feel like it’s the end of the world. But the one thing Dalen doesn’t do is he never gives up,” Mathurin said. “He’s going to keep working on whatever the team wants him to do.”
“My freshman year, I went through a bunch of ups and downs. It was definitely a roller coaster. And everybody didn’t really have me on draft boards my sophomore year. But no matter what anybody told me, I knew I was going to be a pro,” Terry said. “I believed I was going to be what I am today, and I still believe I’m going to be way better than I am now.”
Terry is well-liked within the Bulls’ locker room. He’s a bundle of energy and a non-stop talker. Does he ever stay quiet?
“Nah,” Mathurin said, laughing. “That’s the one thing he doesn’t do. But it’s a great quality to have.”