By MARK AMBROGI
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers took Arizona sophomore Bennedict Mathurin at No. 6 overall in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Mathurin, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard/small forward, averaged 17.7 points. 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season, when he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year. He shot 45% from the field, including 36.9% from 3-point range in helping the Wildcats reach the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Mathurin grew up in Montreal and his parents in Haiti.
It was the first time the Pacers had a single-digit draft pick since drafting George McCloud with the No. 9 draft pick in 1989. It followed a 25-57 season, good enough for only 13th in the Eastern Conference in the first season of coach Rick Carlisle’s second stint with Indiana. It was the Pacers’ fewest wins since 1984-85 when they finished 22-60.
Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard began a rebuild of the team after guards Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell, forward T.J. Warren and center Myles Turner all had lengthy absences because of injuries.
Warren missed the entire season with a foot injury. Brogdon played in just 36 games while Turner played in 42. McConnell played in 27 games. Both might have been able to play later in the season but were shut down with Pacers’ season going nowhere.
The Pacers traded two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento in February, acquiring Tyrese Halliburton and Buddy Hield and and Jalen Smith.
With Halliburton, the Pacers appear to finally have a playmaking ball-handler. Indiana’s 2021 first-round pick Chris Duarte had a solid rookie season, averaging 13.1 points.
The Pacers traded Caris LeVert to Cleveland with the main prize being the the 2022 lottery protected first-round pick. Since Cleveland faded and didn’t make the playoffs, that pick will now be lottery protected for 2023.
The Pacers also held the No. 31 pick in the second round, from Houston via Cleveland, and No. 58 from Phoenix.
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Indiana Pacers take Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin at No. 6