Bennedict Mathurin, the Canadian shooting guard, has got off to a flying start in his NBA debut season.
The Montreal-born rookie, who was recruited by the Indiana Pacers with the sixth overall pick in the 2022 draft, has already played a starring role in the defeat of the Brooklyn Nets., scoring 32 points with 5 rebounds. His win over Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is just the latest in his mission to outshine the best players in the NBA.
Throwing down the gauntlet to LeBron
The 20-year-old shooting guard is certainly not lacking in confidence, judging by his comments about NBA legend LeBron James before he had even played in the NBA: “A lot of people say he’s great. I want to see how great he is. I don’t think anybody is better than me. He’s going to have to show me he’s better than me.”
But while Mathurin talks a big game, he has also delivered on court, breaking a series of rookie records. This season he scored a total of 104 points in his first five NBA games, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve this feat. He also became the first rookie at the Indiana Pacers to score over 30 points in a game since 2016.
Canadians in the NBA
Mathurin is one of a number of Canadians playing in the NBA, with others including fellow Quebec native Luguentz Dort of Oklahoma City Thunder, Cory Joseph of the Detroit Pistons, and Mfiondu Kabengele, who plays for the Boston Celtics. Canada is also represented in the NBA by the Toronto Raptors. While ice hockey is the national sport of the Great White North, basketball has grown in popularity and this is likely to increase in the future if Mathurin is able to maintain his meteoric rise.
With the sport proving so popular in North America it is no surprise to see successful basketball-themed video game titles such as the latest iteration of the popular NBA 2K franchise, NBA 2K23, which gives Canadian gamers the opportunity to take control of the Raptors or the Pacers featuring Mathurin. The popularity of the sport has also led to its inclusion amongst the many sport-themed slot games in the iGaming sector, with titles such as Basketball, Basketball Star, and Basketball Star on Fire which are available to play via the sites listed on BonusFinder in Quebec. As the sport grows in popularity, there are likely to be further basketball slot titles over the coming years.
While Mathurin surprised many with his comments about LeBron, Chad Buchanan, the general manager of the Pacers, highlighted the Canadian rookie’s confidence, competitiveness and willingness to challenge opponents as part of the winning mentality required as a newcomer to the league, as reported by the NBA site on draft night.
For the Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, the sky is the limit for the Canadian in the NBA, per Yahoo after his debut. Carlisle is predicting that there is more to come from a player he already rates as possessing attributes unmatched by anyone else at the Pacers.
Mathurin has the talent to improve further this season as he pits himself against the best in the world. It would come as no surprise to see him break further records with the Pacers.
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