The 2022 NBA rookie class has been beyond impressive through the 2022-23 season’s first week. First-overall pick Paolo Banchero is averaging over 20 points per game and is looking like an All-Star already. Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Jalen Duren, Jeremy Sochan, and others are doing their thing as well.
Among all those names, the player who has stood out to me the most in this seemingly star-studded class is Bennedict Mathurin.
Mathurin, the ninth-overall pick, has posted 19.2 PPG across the first six games of his career. His game is smooth and he oozes confidence on the court. He was projected to be a high-end role player before the draft but has proven to have significantly higher upside already.
The best players in basketball make it look easy. Giannis Antetokounmpo blows through defenders like they’re not even there. Kevin Durant effortlessly strokes fadeaways over anyone thrown at him. Steph Curry drains thirty-footers in his sleep. Bennedict Mathurin is barely 20 years old and he’s making hard things look simple.
The rookie’s prime skill coming out of college was three-point shooting, but it’s at the rim where he’s looked the best in the pros. He’s 14-20 (70%) on shots within three feet of the hoop.
Mathurin’s fantastic body control makes him look like a wizard in the air sometimes. Ridiculous acrobatics like this are impossible for the average human and he does them like they’re nothing.
He can brush off contact even in mid-air. He’s finished three and-ones in six contests which places him in the top thirty in the league.
Reverses, euro steps, he does it all. His bag of tricks is a deep one.
He excels when he can get the ball and get downhill, so catch-and-drives are his specialty. This action was perfectly set up for him as he was able to catch the ball in stride off a curl. Once he had the advantage he put his aerial wizardry on full display.
He’s a play-finisher rather than a creator at this point, but he does make good decisions in the P&R. It’s easy to have tunnel vision heading downhill and these are nice heads-up passes to his roll man.
His finishing ability has been the standout facet of his game, but Mathurin’s shooting has been as advertised. Along with hitting shots off the catch, he also knocks down plenty of in-rhythm pull-ups. His stroke is silky smooth.
He’s connected on 13 of his 35 tries from deep so far, a 37% success rate.
A perfect word to describe Mathurin is fearless. He’s a big-time competitor and doesn’t shy away in crunch time.
Simply put, he’s got that dawg in him.
Bennedict Mahturin’s hot start to his career has been a blast. He’ll be firmly in the running for Rookie of the Year and is looking like a sure-fire All-Rookie first-teamer. There is so much to like in his game and he has star written all over him because he makes basketball look easy.