The Sacramento Kings Should Consider Bennedict Mathurin At #4

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 20: Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats shoots a free throw … [+] during overtime against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena at San Diego State University on March 20, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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The Sacramento Kings are picking fourth overall in next week’s NBA draft, likely missing out on the assumed top three selections of Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, and Paolo Banchero, who are expected to go #1-3 in any which order.

That leaves Purdue’s Jaden Ivey as an obvious candidate for the Kings. Ivey is a 6’4 combo guard who Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman compared to Victor Oladipo when recently visiting The NBA Podcast, signaling high upside for the Kings, should they select him.

(For the sake of full transparency, this writer is a co-host on the aforementioned podcast.)

While Ivey would indeed make an excellent selection, should the Kings be open to thinking outside the box? According to Wasserman, Bennedict Mathurin is rising up draft boards, and it’s easy to understand why.

Size and touch

Mathurin, out of Arizona, is 6’6 with a 6’9 wingspan. He has athletic ability that allows him to play even bigger, and the combination of all that projects him as a player who can play both wing spots in the NBA. While the Kings shouldn’t necessarily take need into account, they do lack a proper wing, as they’ve spent years drafting point guards. Mathurin is very much not that, and someone the Kings could start at the two or the three, pending matchups.

His 36.9% from behind the three-point line this season was solid, as was his 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, but Mathurin’s shooting percentages don’t seem to fully do his future shooting justice. His release is extremely clean, and he’s able to shoot against closeouts, and immediately off the catch. He can rise over defenders somewhat effortlessly, and his range does stretch out that of the NBA line. Given the more added spacing at the next level, it should come as no surprise if Mathurin took little time developing into a reliable near-40% shooter from range.

This isn’t to say he’s exclusively an off-ball player. In fact, far from it. Mathurin will frequently create off the drive, and even has the ability to get himself to the free throw line at a decent rate (4.8 attempts per game). His height, shooting ability, and fluid dribble allows him to stop and pop in the mid-range area as well, making him a Swiss army knife scorer, who can be used in a variety of ways.

Mathurin also protects the ball well, sporting a modest TOV% of 10.8, which further underlines his NBA readiness. He will occasionally lose his head and make plays that aren’t entirely thought through, but given that he’ll turn just 20 years old on June 19th, this is hardly a long-term issue. Not only are his mistakes rare, they also appear to be easy to iron out. Mathurin isn’t a player who acts entirely on instincts, as he does showcase a high level of basketball maturity and intelligence in shot pattern and in his overall decision-making process.

Immediate production

Mathurin should hit the league as a player who contributes right off the bat, even on both ends of the floor, pending final destination in the draft. For the Kings specifically, the polished Canadian should be able to make a living off the attention given to both De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, allowing him to fly under the radar and get quality looks. Both Fox and Sabonis are tremendous playmakers who can find him moving off the ball, or cutting to the basket.

Pending the return of Harrison Barnes (who has been the subject of trade rumors since December of 2021), the Kings could sport a highly competent offensive foursome of Fox, Mathurin, Barnes and Sabonis, which should offer plenty of upside. Add in Davion Mitchell off the bench, and the Kings are essentially just one two-way wing short of a team that could make some noise in the Western Conference next season.

It isn’t inconceivable that Mathurin could find himself heavily included in Rookie Of the Year mix next season, given the maturity of his game, and the fluidity of how he scores. The Kings had the 6th-worst offense in the league this season, and while Fox has become a fully-fledged 20-point scorer, the players around him are more reactive to the game than insisting upon great scoring averages. Mathurin could easily swoop in and take a significant load of offensive responsibility, eventually developing into Sacramento’s second option behind Fox, if not overtaking him as the primary scorer a few years down the road.

This isn’t to say Ivey wouldn’t be able to do something similar. He very well could be the obvious pick at #4, should the organization deem him a good fit. Mathurin does, however, present an option that shouldn’t be ignored. There’s substantial upside attached to his game, and he offers some positional flexibility that in today’s NBA is worth quite a bit from a team-building perspective.

Overall, the Kings are finding themselves in a solid spot where they’ll have plenty of options, which also includes Iowa forward Keegan Murray, arguably the most polished offensive forward in the draft.

Of course, the Kings could decide to also move off the selection for the sake of acquiring a win-now player. That would make some sense given the acquisition of Sabonis at the trade deadline. That said, if the Kings do go that route, they need to make the most out of it, as they’d be relinquishing a chance to select from a group of players with significant long-term upside. Quite simply, they need to ask for a lot, and get it.

Unless noted otherwise, all stats via NBA.com, PBPStats, Cleaning the Glass or Basketball-Reference. All salary information via Spotrac. All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

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