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When the Pacers took Benedict Mathurin with the 6th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, many assumed he would be an instant starter for a lackluster roster. Instead, Head Coach Rick Carlisle made the Arizona product pay his dues. Mathurin played in 78 of the Pacers’ 82 games last season but started just 17, with the majority of these games coming late in the season after the Blue and Gold were riddled with injuries. Now, the 6’5 guard/forward still found a way to produce offensively, averaging nearly 17 points per game and playing big-time minutes late in games, earning All-Rookie First Team honors.

Fast forward to the middle of July and the Pacers’ roster is suddenly loaded compared to this time a year ago. Tyrese Haliburton gets his mega-extension, reigning NBA champion Bruce Brown joins in free agency, and former Knick Obi Toppin comes to Indy in a trade, not to mention the addition of a top-10 pick out of Houston in Jarace Walker and another first-rounder in Ben Sheppard. Needless to say, the Pacers are now serious playoff contenders in the East, but how will Carlisle put the pieces together and make everything fit? On Wednesday’s edition of The Fan Midday Show, host Greg Rakestraw has a conversation with Chris Denari, the TV play-by-play announcer for the team, and the main topic of discussion revolved around Mathurin’s position on the roster. There is no doubt that he will play a major role in this team moving forward as a building block for years to come, but Greg poses the question of whether the second-year player will have a spot in the starting lineup moving forward. Will he be an unquestioned starter for 82 games next year or will he be a guy that plays starters’ minutes, but comes off the bench with an aggressive mindset like most of last season?

“All coaches will tell you- its really who finishes rather than who starts… [look at] somebody like Bruce Brown, who last year did not start for the Denver Nuggets but was the sixth man. We can make a real argument that they don’t win the title without somebody of his quality. You can come off the bench and be highly effective.” Denari continued, “Right now I would pencil him in as a starter. I think that’s maybe where they want to go.”

The Voice of the Pacers then said how much he liked the depth of this team right now, especially when you consider the attrition of playing 3-5 games a week, and he says that it will be very interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the starting lineup moving forward. For what it is worth, he later hinted that the front office may not be done making moves either, so the current roster makeup might be a bit different- specifically with a guy like Pascal Siakam rumored to be on the radar of Kevin Pritchard and the rest of the front office. According to Denari, you can assume that Mathurin will be a starter moving forward but as Rakestraw pointed out on the show, there are a lot of mouths to feed up and down this roster right now.

In the meantime, the Pacers are in action with Summer League games this week, and Mathurin is among the many core players that have been playing a lot of minutes (until now), and putting up a lot of production for the undefeated Pacers. As Greg and Chris point out, there is not a lot that we can/should take away from these games but it is worth noting that the Pacers are shining.

To listen to Greg Rakestraw’s chat with Chris Denari (and others), download the podcast containing the conversation below! You can always listen to the Fan Midday Show from 12pm-3pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan, but you can watch and interact with the show by going to the 107.5 The Fan YouTube Channel, as well as on Twitter @1075thefan.

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