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NBA Play of the Day: June 27, 2022

By Lior Lampert

The 2022 NBA Draft went as expected (for the most part): the consensus top-10 players were all drafted early in the lottery as projected. Although, the Orlando Magic caught a lot of people by surprise when they selected Duke Forward Paolo Banchero over Auburn’s Jabari Smith, who was a considerable betting favorite to be the first name called on draft night. Now that we see what rookies ended up where, who is in the best position to make an immediate impact and compete for the 2023 NBA Rookie of the Year award?

When picking a player to win an award such as the Rookie of the Year, it may not always be the biggest name or most talented player. Where a player gets drafted has a huge influence on whether or not they will be able to compete for an award of this caliber. For a rookie to garner enough attention to be considered for the award, these are the two things I consider to be the most valuable: draft pedigree and playing time. Which members from this year’s rookie class have the best chance to play plenty of minutes right out of the gate?

Based on draft pedigree and opportunity for playing time, I think former Arizona Wildcat and current Indiana Pacer Bennedict Mathurin is the perfect choice to win this year’s Rookie of the Year Award. On a rebuilding Indiana Pacers team that doesn’t have many other options to play at the guard/wing positions, Mathurin should have a chance to play around 30 or so minutes per night. Not to mention, if/when Malcom Brogdon eventually gets traded, there will be even more playing time and opportunity freed up for Mathurin.

The 2021-2022 PAC-12 Player of the Year award winner averaged just under 18 points to go along with nearly 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game during his last season at Arizona. During the NCAA Tournament, Mathurin showcased exactly why he deserved to be the sixth player taken in this year’s draft when he hit the game-tying shot versus TCU and scored 30 points to will his Wildcats to victory.

Mathurin is a 6’6” guard/forward who is athletically gifted and a hard-worker on the defensive end, which should afford him plenty of time on the court even if/when his offensive game is struggling. He also has the ability to play both on and off the ball, which gives him a chance to contribute on offense without needing the ball in his hands consistently. Pair all of this with the fact that he is on a rebuilding team that will likely be trading more of their big-name players between now and next season’s trade deadline, I love the value that Mathurin’s line for winning the 2022-23 Rookie of the Year award has to offer.

My Pick: 2022-2023 NBA Rookie of the Year Winner – Bennedict Mathurin +1500 (Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook)

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