We commonly hear of draft prospects entering the league with a desire to face off against one specific player or team. For the sixth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin already has one player he wants to take on one-on-one.
Bennedict Mathurin wants to see how great LeBron James is
When LeBron James entered the league in 2003, Bennedict Mathurin was just one year old, chilling in Montreal, Quebec, where he was born. But obviously, he’s since had a chance to witness James, like many other basketball enthusiasts. Now, at 20 years old, Mathurin’s set to have an opportunity to face off against the basketball icon.
But it doesn’t sound as if Mathurin is at all nervous about his first matchup against King James, in fact, he’s looking forward to it.
Many young athletes might be a bit timid about taking on one of the best players in basketball, but clearly Mathurin feels he’s on a similar scale, even as a rookie. And while James may now be entering his 20th season, in which he’ll be 38, he’s still playing at an elite level.
Pacers rookie has talent, but a long way to go
To be fair, Mathurin didn’t state that he’s better than LeBron James has been in his career, he seems to just be suggesting he can take him right now. But still, James made the All-Star team for the 18th consecutive season last year, averaging 30.3 points per game. He still brings it when he’s healthy.
But Mathurin has yet to even see an NBA floor. He may very well be one of the best incoming rookies, with a shot at winning Rookie of the Year, but he’s not going to get near the numbers James puts up next season.
One-on-one, Mathurin’s bucket-getting ability gives him a fair shot at getting the best of James here and there, but the bigger test will be on defense. James, at 6-foot-9, has a few inches over the 6-foot-6 Mathurin, and also an extra 40 pounds or so.
It would be a fascinating matchup, but James doesn’t have to show he’s better than Mathurin. Instead, the rookie needs to prove he can play, or even earn a starting role first. We’ll see how quickly things progress from there, but you have to love the confidence.