Rookie Comparison: Detroit Pistons Jaden Ivey and Indiana Pacers Bennedict Mathurin
Shame on you Detroit Pistons fans out there salivating at the scoring prowess of Indiana Pacers’ rookie Bennedict Mathurin. Despite Jaden Ivey being on the home town team and the stats proving he’s contributing in many more ways.
I understand if fans of the Pacers want to declare a winner between the two before they’ve even played a full season, let alone 41 games.
But what would life be if we didn’t compare stuff? So, let’s compare the rookie campaigns to this point of Ivey and Mathurin.
In this department Bennedict Mathurin is the clear winner early averaging nearly eighteen points per game. The way he scores the basketball seems effortless compared to the other rookies. And it’s contributing in a big way to Pacer wins. He’s an integral part of the teams offensive game plan evidenced by his 25.7% usage rate. Just behind players like James Harden and Bradley Beal in that department. He started the season hot from three but has struggled over the last 10 games to find the rhythm. The one area that Mathurin has shown to be elite (43% free throw rate) so far is getting to the free throw line. He has a knack for it which can get opposing guards in foul trouble and his team in the bonus faster.
Jaden Ivey averages fifteen points per game shooting 41% from the field and 30% from three. You take the point totals and wish for more on the shooting numbers. It was known shooting was an area of improvement for Ivey, and vital to him taking the next step in his development. For as polished a scorer Mathurin is, Ivey isn’t too far behind.
Playmaking (Ivey + 2.5 Assists Per Game)
Jaden Ivey is leading this category going away to start the season. This was a skillset some wondered if Ivey was capable of right out the gate. Or if it would take an adjustment and learning period. At four assists per game, and 110 total on the team which is good for second behind Killian Hayes, I think it’s safe to say playmaking is part of his game. During draft and prospect coverage the summer of 2022, Jeff Iafrate (co-host of Woodward Pistons) thought it was about what Jaden Ivey was asked to do, or not do in college. Effectively, the game plan at Purdue didn’t ask Ivey to play make much.
Ivey has been one of the more consistent playmakers for the Detroit Pistons. But the rookie mistakes can be a hindrance at times. By virtue of Ivey leading the category by the margin he does, it actually negates the scoring advantage of Mathurin. Ivey assists’ on a minimum eight points per game from his four assists.
When added to his scoring, you get 23 points minimum that Ivey is responsible for which is higher than Bennedict Mathurin’s ‘points responsible for’ of 21 points. Mathurin averages 1.5 assists per game and when he isn’t scoring, his overall effect on the game diminishes with a lack of playmaking. In the last ten games for Mathurin he has finished with one or fewer assists six times where as Ivey had four or more assists in five games.
Just for measure Jaden Ivey’s assist rate is 20.7% compared to Bennedict Mathurin’s 8.3%.
Defense (Ivey, Detroit Pistons style)
This is a category where most Detroit Pistons fans and anyone only looking at scoring have made me disappointed. I swear in Detroit defense is where fans, players, owners and team executives say championships are won and lost.
So it was a little disheartening to check into the defense between the two high level rookies and see that Ivey was the clear winner so far. You’d think that would be enough for Pistons fans to know this rookie race is a lot closer than who’s scoring the most.
Jaden Ivey currently leads Bennedict Mathurin in the following advanced stats:
Despite Mathurin’s size advantage of 6’6″ compared to Ivey at 6’4″, it hasn’t provided an advantage to the later. Ivey’s speed, athleticism and IQ in the passing lanes has helped him make a difference for this team.
Final Take Away
I believe both Jaden Ivey and Bennedict Mathurin are having good rookie seasons that should be appreciated. A lot more than criticized. Both have exceeded early expectations and answered the questions that faced them on draft night. But if you are going to go with who has started their rookie campaigns better, Ivey has found ways to effect the games in more ways than Mathurin. Whether his shot is falling, or not, he finds ways to play make and hustle on defense. Bennedict Mathurin scores and does that at a really good clip for a rookie, or any NBA basketball player for that matter. Throw getting to the free throw line in there too! Not too many have found ways to slow dynamic scorer.
In large part they effect the games in different ways, as one is asked to be a scorer and the other has exhibited all around play. Which style do you prefer, and more importantly… which player do you believe should be leading the rookie race?
The Pistons play the Utah Jazz Tuesday, December 20th, at 7PM.
Want More Detroit Pistons?
Check out all of our Pistons coverage with Woodward Pistons via YouTube
Follow Brandon Dent (Woodward Sports Network Pistons Beat Reporter) aka @DetroitKoolAid on Twitter and Instagram for more WSN Pistons Coverage.