‘The possibilities are amazing’: Bennedict Mathurin dazzles in Pacers’ debut

After a strong run in the preseason, Bennedict Mathurin picked up where he left off on Wednesday as the Indiana Pacers tipped off their season opener at home.

Mathurin produced 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 114-107 loss to the Washington Wizards. He went 7-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, in nearly 28 minutes of work off of the bench.

The sixth pick went to work early in the contest, scoring 10 points in the first quarter alone. He once again had each offensive tool on display, from his ability to drive into the paint and finish to stepping out and hitting from distance.

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle liked what he saw from Mathurin.

The possibilities are amazing with him. He is going to learn a lot. Even though he can go get a shot anytime he wants, sometimes the thing to do is move the ball and move yourself. Great players moving around the floor positively influences teammates.

This is Benn’s first game. He has tools that really nobody else in our team has and that’s exciting. I thought he played pretty well. He still had 19 points. I thought his decision-making was really good at times and, other times, needed to be a lot better but he was still plus-nine (on the court) and had 19 points.

Mathurin played all but 53 seconds in the fourth quarter as the Pacers worked their way back from a 10-point deficit. He scored five points in the period and had a key layup with 31.2 seconds that cut the Wizards’ lead to three points, but they were unable to get any closer.

He relished the opportunity to play those crunch-time minutes.

It was good knowing that my coaches and teammates trust me. It is great having teammates that trust me but also, I’m ready. If there are two minutes in the game or 30 seconds, I’m the same player and step in with the same confidence. Having the ball in my hands, I’m not stressing. I’m going to keep doing what I do.

Mathurin finished the preseason by leading all rookie players in scoring after averaging 19.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in four games. He scored at least 15 points in each game and tied Shaedon Sharpe for the highest-scoring game by a rookie with 27 points on Oct. 12.

He consistently drew praise from head coach Rick Carlisle throughout training camp for his ability as a scorer and finisher at the basket. Carlisle is a fan of his and believes he has a bright future ahead.

“He is a great pick for us,” Carlisle said. “(Pacers president) Kevin (Pritchard) did a great job on that one. He is obviously a crowd favorite. I mean, when I put him in the game the place went crazy. When he was introduced, in the pregame introductions, the place went crazy. A lot of good things to come for him – no question about it.”

Indiana returns to play on Friday versus the San Antonio Spurs.


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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire