With the sixth overall pick, the Sacramento Kings select Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin.
It’s always difficult to figure out what the Kings will do in the draft with how unpredictable they are, and given who’s been rising and falling on draft boards recently, this may come as another slight surprise. But I think this could be a great business decision by the Kings based on what they’re trying to do.
At this year’s trade deadline, the Kings made the shocking decision to part ways with Tyrese Haliburton to make way for Domantas Sabonis—a clear win-now move that I think will bleed into the Draft. While there are a few “win-now” players that I think the Kings may investigate in this situation even with Keegan Murray off the board, I think Benn Mathurin checks the most boxes for the team.
Mathurin is one of the best off-ball offensive players in his Draft class and has been a model of consistency in his sophomore season with the Wildcats. While his shooting numbers have taken a slight dip this season, he’s shot 38% from three on a high volume of shots and is a career 80% free-throw shooter. He has the length to be a very effective two-way player and knows how to use his bouncy athleticism to his advantage on both ends of the floor.
While I think he has a bit of room for improvement in his off-ball defensive instincts and reaction speed, the flashes I’ve seen of this both in transition and when defending the ball-handler make me think this will come along with more seasoning.
Adding Mathurin to the Kings’ roster would allow for the ball to mostly remain in the hands of both De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis while Mathurin operates away from the ball. While Mathurin has shown some promising flashes of self-creation, he wouldn’t have much pressure to develop this skill with urgency and he’ll be allowed to play more to his current strengths.
Furthermore, having a slightly reduced offensive role to begin his career would allow him to focus on developing his defense. While there may be a few other players on the board at this point with (debatably) higher upside, I don’t think that is enough to offset his growth in college, his production this season, and the potential fit with the team.