Mathurin brings size, athleticism, 3-point shooting as Pistons draft candidate

(Editor’s note: With the Pistons holding the #5 in the June 23 draft, today continues its series of previews of potential targets with the built-in assumption that the consensus top 3 prospects — Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero – will no longer serve on the board. Today: Bennedict Mathurin of Arizona.)

You could have had a good chance of Bennedict Mathurin developing into an NBA player when he was of an age when most future lottery picks appear on the first grassroots circuits. Not many of these players grow up in Montreal. The Venn diagram of Montreal players of Haitian descent who become world elite basketball players is one with no crossing arcs.

Throw in the risky nature of Mathurin’s upbringing — a tough neighborhood and a single mother struggling to make ends meet to keep a roof over the heads of three children, a role model of a big brother growing up tragically died in a car-bike accident – and the odds are growing incredibly long.

But Mathurin’s life raft came in the form of a chance encounter that ended with him being kidnapped to Mexico City as a 16-year-old to help build the NBA academy there. With all available resources suddenly at hand and distractions limited, Mathurin blossomed into a Division I prospect, landing as an 18-year-old in the pandemic-constrained world of summer 2020 Arizona. He posed as a freshman and shot onto the NBA radar as a sophomore to lottery status. Here’s a look at Mathurin:


ID CARD: 6-ft-6 guard/wing, Arizona, age 19

DESIGN SPACE: rank 6th by The Athletic, 10th from The Ringer, 8th from, Octth from Bleacher Report, 10th from

SCOUTS LOVE: Mathurin looks at least like a 3-D player, and possibly more than that. He’ll be 20 in draft week, but already has two years of college productivity under his belt. Flirting with the drafting process after his first season in Arizona, where he was forecast as a likely second-round pick, Mathurin made the decision to go back to college a thing of the past with a big jump and winning the Pac-12 player awards paid out of the year. Mathurin averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds. He shot 37 percent from the 3-point line, slightly less than the 42 percent he shot as a freshman, but with the kind of volume (6.1 attempts per game, 46.5 percent of his shots) that picked the needle moved while providing ground clearance. Mathurin’s athleticism is most notable in transition, where he thrived in Arizona. Mathurin was pretty much a catch-and-shoot player as a freshman, but he expanded his repertoire as a sophomore. There is optimism that he can be an effective shooter from the move and also shows the tools to be a good secondary playmaker with sometimes surprising vision. Mathurin was on the line 4.8 times per game as a sophomore and had games with 15 tries (vs. UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament) and 13 (in the NCAA tournament) late in the season when he became more comfortable in offense felt. He also puts his shot down quickly so it might be easier for him to adjust to NBA length and speed.

SCOUTS WONDER: The defense has some catching up to do for Mathurin to be truly ready to qualify as a 3-and-D prospect as a rookie. The physical tools are there — Mathurin measured a wingspan of 6ft 9 at the NBA draft combine, though he didn’t test athletically — but the focus comes and goes, not too atypical for someone used to getting by with his size / Athletic combination. Mathurin is also a little loose with the ball at times and there are doubts about his ability to succeed on half courts. After a dynamic outing with 30 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead Arizona past a gruff TCU team in the second round of the NCAA, Mathurin was slowed down by Houston’s hyper-aggressive defense in the second round and retired by 15 points from 4 of 14 Shoot.

NUMBER TO NOTE: 4 – The number of languages ​​Mathurin speaks: French, Spanish, Creole and English.

MONEY QUOTE: “He can really shoot the ball. He has size and athleticism. He’s a great offensive rebounder and a quality shooter, so don’t let him catch fire from behind the line. You could see he had it last year. It would just be a matter of experience with him. Guys who play hard, you can tell. You don’t have to tell a guy like him to run after the ball. You watch the movie — if you don’t block it, he gets it.” — UCLA coach Mike Cronin as the Bruins prepare to play Arizona late in the season

PISTON FIT: Size, athleticism, and 3-point shooting are a good fit for any team, and especially a young roster building around Cade Cunningham. Mathurin’s 3-point shooting, transition scoring and athleticism would all be stretched out by Cunningham’s vision, playmaking and ability to draw defense. His size would allow the Pistons tremendous lineup flexibility to go big with a Cunningham-Mathurin backcourt or play smaller with another real guard or two in the lineup and Cunningham and Mathurin on the wings. Battle-hardened with two years of Power Five college basketball on his resume, Mathurin is still only 19 and has easily predictable improvement ahead of him on a team that has plenty of time to wait to develop.

BOTTOM LINE: It is considered highly likely that Mathurin will still be on the board with the fifth pick and it seems reasonable that he would be on a short list of players heavily considered by Troy Weaver and his inner circle . Mathurin evokes images of a young Caris LeVert in his shooting, athleticism and dribbling potential. Some have drawn comparisons to a young Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Victor Oladipo. Dwane Casey said the key ingredient the Pistons around Cunningham need to add to give their young playmaker the space he needs to create the way he does best is 3-point shooting. Mathurin has arguably the best combination of size, athleticism, and 3-point shooting — and a track record in production — among the lottery contenders. A consistently good player as a sophomore, Mathurin only got better as the season progressed, a player clearly moving upwards.

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