Pacers’ Bennedict Mathurin: ‘I want to be one of the greatest players’

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Pacers Bennedict Mathurin - I want to be one of the greatest players

Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin wants to become one of the greatest players in NBA history. The sixth overall pick from last year’s draft out of the University of Arizona is off to a decent start.

Through 68 starts this season, the forward is averaging 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 27.8 minutes per game. Mathurin is also shooting 43.1% from the floor and 31.8% outside the arc.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Pacers are not yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Although, sportsbooks are giving the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls better qualifying odds.

“I’ve said it multiple times,” Mathurin told Indianapolis Star, following the Pacers’ 115-109 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. “I want to be one of the greatest players to ever play the game.”

It was Mathurin’s first game back after missing the previous four due to a right ankle sprain. The 20-year-old ended his outing with 18 points, three boards, two assists, and one steal in 31 minutes as a starter. Plus, he finished 7-of-10 (70%) shooting from the field and hit a 3-pointer.

Pacers rookie forward Bennedict Mathurin wants to become one of the greatest players in NBA history

However, despite outscoring the Hornets 40-22 in the opening quarter, Indiana went on to surrender 57 second-half points. Charlotte eliminated a 21-point first-half deficit to end a six-game home losing streak.

“Believe me, an opportunity lost for sure,” said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle. The Pacers’ 21 turnovers led to Charlotte scoring 35 points. “At that point, you’re just giving it away,” Carlisle added.

Anyway, Mathurin set a few records with Indiana. The Arizona product scored 72 points through his first three games of the season, the most by a rookie to begin a career since Jerry Stackhouse (76) in the 1995-96 season.

In Indiana’s 124-109 loss to the Bulls on Oct. 26, the rookie forward became the first Pacer in franchise history to score 100 or more points through five career starts.

Additionally, after tallying 21 points in a 123-117 loss against the Utah Jazz, Bennedict Mathurin became the fastest Pacers rookie since Chuck Person (1986-87) to reach 1,000 career points.

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