Kia Rookie Ladder: Benedict Mathurin rises to number one while thriving off the bench

Benedict Mathurin starred off the bench for Indiana State to begin his NBA career.

A week ago in this space, we predicted the possibility that Paolo Panchero from Orlando would become it First rookie All-Star since Blake Griffin in 2011. It’s a stretch for several reasons—most of all, conference coaches usually favor players from teams above or close to .500 when voting for Reserve All-Stars.

But we’re again dipping your toe in similarly improbable waters with the suggestion — based on your first month of play — that an NBA rookie could win the league’s sixth player award. Benedict Mathurin, the overconfident Indiana Pacers winger, climbed to the top spot on the Kia rookie ladder despite not starting the race even once yet, but in part because of that.

Eleven members of the Class of 2022 have started at least two games for their teams, but Mathurin has started in all 12 of their games so far. is this too much? Well, the top six picks in last year’s draft started 373 of 376 games in 2021-22. The five rookies selected ahead of Mathurin this year have started 46 of their 48 games so far.

This guy is not legitimate either. Leads all newcomers in 3-point field goal attempts per game (6.3), ranks second in scoring, shots and free throws, and third in three-point accuracy (45.3%) among rookies who have played 10 or more games. Indiana is a respectable 6-6, with Mathurin boasting a true 64.9 shooting percentage in wins.

But coach Rick Carlisle likes the rookie’s ability to influence the game with his second unit. He feels Mathurin benefits from sitting and watching on cue to gauge the pace, fitness and needs of the Pacers.

“Certain things are important,” Carlyle said recently. “For not skipping a step…. It’s the best thing for the team and that’s the one thing everyone should be concerned about.”

Will it finally start? Certainly. But for now, Mathurin is scoring off the bench—the first point of the sixth man’s job description—at a rate equal to former officially recognized super-subs.

With an average of 19.9 points per game, Mathurin averages the most of all gamers 40 SMOY winner Since the award began in 1982-1983. This shortlist includes Ricky Pierce in 1990 (23.0), Lou Williams in 2019 and 2018 (22.6 and 20.0), Eddie Johnson in 1989 (21.5) and Tyler Hero last season (20.7).

The role wouldn’t necessarily preclude him from ROY considerations, though it would be unusual. Most of the top rookies go to teams in need, with rookie jobs on hand. But in 2017, Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon won that trophy despite starting only 28 of 75 games. Curiously, Brogdon only received one third-place vote in the SMOY ballot, finishing far behind winner Eric Gordon and runner-up Andre Iguodala.

Surely a Mathurin win for SMOY either as an alternate to ROY (or in an unprecedented double hurdle) is certainly more unlikely than Banchero joining the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum in the east frontcourt. But they each had the numbers and were playing like the favorites for that honor.

This week’s handout, for the record, highlights two new faces at MarJon Beauchamp and Jalen Williams. She had some noteworthy errors as Utah’s Walker Kessler, San Antonio’s Jeremy Suchan and Indiana’s Andrew Nimbard.

Last season, the committee had to swing through a superstore to get an extension ladder for some much-needed extra rungs. The way the rookies are going in 2022-23, it could happen again.


This week’s top five in the 2022-23 Kia rookie ladder:

(All stats as of Tuesday, November 15th)

1. Benedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers

Season stats: 19.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg
Since the last ladder: 22.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
The last ladder: 2
Draft selection: No. 6 in general

Benedict Mathurin scored 30 points against Denver last week.

Mathurin has played starting minutes—28.2 per game, fourth-most on the Pacers—although he did come off the bench in each of his 12 NBA games. Carlisle is so committed to the plan that when second year guard Chris Duarte was injured, he turned the team’s other rookie Andrew Nimbard into the starting lineup to keep Mathurin consistent in his role. And that suits him: he averages 25.5 points per 36 minutes, better than Banshiro (24.5).


2. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons

Season stats: 16.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.1 apg
Since the last ladder: 19.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.3 apg
The last ladder: 3
Draft selection: No. 5 in general

Jaden Ivey scored a career-high 26 points against Boston.

Playing without fellow backcourt Cady Cunningham (a sore left leg), the 6-foot-4 South Bend native shone even if it wasn’t for the Pistons (0-4). Ivey hit his first 20-point performance and then promptly did it again, with 26 against Boston followed by 21. Monday vs. Toronto. Against the Raptors, he had eight assists and four rebounds, with Toronto head coach Nick Nurse turning 2022 ROY Scotty Barnes on to Ivey in the fourth quarter. “His speed was the difference in getting into the paint and creating things for other people,” said Pistons coach Duane Casey.


3. Paolo Panchero, Orlando Magic

Season stats: 23.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.6 apg
Since the last ladder: DNP
The last ladder: 1
Draft selection: No. 1 overall

Banchero drops only because of inactivity. He missed Orlando’s last three games due to a sprained left ankle. And after sitting out training on Tuesday, the Magic’s home clash with the Twin Timberwolves was called into question Wednesday night. “He’s clearly not happy,” coach Jamal Moseley told reporters. Up next for Orlando and his No. 1 pick, if he can: Bulls in Chicago on Friday and then a two-game game in Indianapolis against rival Lader Mathurin.


4. Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings

Season stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.1 apg
Since the last ladder: 10.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 0.3 apg
The last ladder: 4
Draft selection: No. 4 in general

My approximate recently went to an Iowa product. Murray had to leave the Kings Exciting victory Over Brooklyn Tuesday with a sore back after scoring four points with three rebounds in 12 minutes. This comes after his father information revealed About the personal issue that recently knocked his son off the track. It was revealed that his grandmother had suffered a stroke while attending his game in Charlotte on Oct. 31. Her condition seemed to be improving, with Murray telling NBC Sports California, “She’s been able to open her eyes in the last couple of days.” Even his teammates didn’t know at first what was bothering Murray. He scored 21 against Golden State Sunday, including shooting 5 of 9.


5. Jabari Smith Jr.

Season stats: 10.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.8 apg
Since the last ladder: 10.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.0 apg
The last ladder: 6
Draft selection: No. 3 in general

The Rockets continued to lose but Smith averaged twice as high in losses, with a 10-15 game in Toronto and a Perform 15 rebounds in New Orleans. He shot 10-of-27 for the week, already raising his field goal percentage for the season (31.6). Smith had a pair of blocks against the Pelicans and Three thefts against the Clippers on Monday, but his fitness in an offense dominated by Houston guards was poor. Also, his net rating of 18-18 (102.2-120.2) remains the lowest among all rookies who have played at least 10 games.


Next 5:

6. Tari Eason, Houston Rockets

Season stats: 8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.1 apg
Since the last ladder: 9.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.7 apg
The last ladder: 5
Draft selection: No. 17 overall

Gem Efficiency was 14-6-5 with 5 steals in 21 minutes. in TOR.

7. Shedon Sharp, Portland Trail Blazers

Season stats: 9.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.4 apg
Since the last ladder: 11.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.0 apg
The last ladder: 10
Draft selection: No. 7 overall

A finger injury didn’t stop his 13-point, 5-of-7 shooting against the Spurs Wednesday.

8. Margo Beauchamp, Milwaukee Bucks

Season stats: 7.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.4 apg
Since the last ladder: 15.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
The last ladder: Unavailable
Draft selection: No. 24 overall

Bucks’ injuries opened the door to igniting the alum.

9. Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

Season stats: 8.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg
Since the last ladder: 10.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.8 apg
The last ladder: Unavailable
Draft selection: No. 12 overall

Equally productive as an instant starter or off the bench OKC.

10. Jalen Doreen, Detroit Pistons

Season stats: 6.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.3 apg
Since the last ladder: 3.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.8 apg
The last ladder: Unavailable
Draft selection: No. 13 overall

10 offensive boards in four games, more than all but 9 rookies all year.

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Steve Ashburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, search Archive it here And the Follow him on Twitter.

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