With the ninth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs could opt to add an infusion of three-point shooting, athleticism and all-around offensive explosiveness by drafting Bennedict Mathurin out of Arizona. Prior to the 2021 draft, there was talk behind the scenes that the Spurs were highly interested in Mathurin before he decided to return to college for his sophomore campaign. That’s part of the reason why he has been the fifth ranked prospect on the Spurs Big Board since the first iteration. In the Mock Draft 1.0, Mathurin was San Antonio’s selection in the lottery.
The Case For Drafting Bennedict Mathurin
Bennedict Mathurin’s athleticism is what initially jumps off the page. He’s fast, he can get off the ground, he’s powerfully built and he’s not timid about showing off his elite physical tools.
Currently, Mathurin’s athleticism is most useful in transition. As he develops, his quick first step and the elevation he gets on his jumper gives him a sky-high ceiling as a scorer. At Arizona, he averaged 17.7 points in 32.5 minutes per game. In the NBA, if he keeps developing, there’s a chance he could become an even more voluminous scorer than he was in college.
Speaking of his shooting, Mathurin has all the markings of a deadly three-point marksman. He was 121-for-316 (38.3%) from three-point range during his two seasons at Arizona and hit 78.9% of his free throws. He has exquisite form and can hit threes off the catch, off of movement and off the bounce.
Mathurin moves well without the ball, makes sharp cuts, and has a wide array of floaters and runners in his repertoire. All of that should make him a threat on offense regardless of if he’s on the ball or off the ball.
At the combine, Mathurin measured well for a shooting guard. He was 6-foot-6 in shoes (6-foot-4.5 without shoes), had a wingspan of 6-foot-9 and weighed 204.6 pounds. His muscular frame (he’s about ten pounds heavier than both Dyson Daniels and Johnny Davis) should allow him to play on the wing against the vast majority of wing counterparts.
The Case Against Bennedict Mathurin
Defense is the glaring question mark. Bennedict Mathurin had a low rate of both blocks and steals, which is usually a red flag for perimeter prospects. In fact, looking at similar prospects with such anemic block and steal rates in past years results in viewing a who’s who list of draft busts.
The worry is that players who struggle to get steals and blocks in college have a poor feel for the game and/or slow reaction speed, which ends up dooming their NBA potential. The hope with Mathurin is that he was just loafing on defense to save his energy for the offensive end. He had a low foul rate, which could be a point in favor of the latter scenario. Additionally, when watching film, there were glimpses of Mathurin exhibiting an exciting amount of defensive potential. In fact, it’s even possible (but not likely) that he’ll develop into a two-way player who is above average on both ends.
Offensively, Mathurin has a sturdy base of shooting and finishing ability. He needs to become a better ball-handler if he wants to become a go-to scorer as a professional. His passing wasn’t anything for him to write home to Canada about but he did have more assists (2.5 per game) than turnovers (1.8) so I also wouldn’t classify his passing as a negative.
Character-wise, Mathurin is regarded as a brash, confident competitor. Some scouts love his makeup and think his self-belief is major part of why he has star potential. Other scouts wonder how he’ll fit within a team concept, especially during his formative years as he’s continuing his development.
Bennedict Mathurin: Spurs Outlook
Mathurin isn’t the safest pick but I think selecting him is one of the best possible outcomes with the ninth pick. His shooting will be helpful from Day 1 and should alone force the coaching staff to put him in the starting lineup. His speed and athleticism fit the way the Spurs have tried to play in recent years. The Spurs could use a high volume scorer and he has that sort of upside.
Defense is a bit of a worry but if Mathurin focuses on that end, I’m reasonably confident that he’ll at least be passable. He has the physical tools to be a plus defender so it’s possible that the Spurs draw that ability out of him.
All in all, I see Mathurin as an exciting prospect who can bring a lot of what the Spurs are currently lacking to the organization with enough potential to justify overlooking the possible pitfalls.