Mathurin interviewed with Wizards, but will he fall to 10?


For those that like to read the tea leaves during NBA Draft season, which teams players work out for is always interesting fodder for speculation. Sometimes the list can indicate exactly the range in which they will ultimately go on draft night.

Likely first overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. of Auburn, for instance, only worked out for two teams: the Magic and Thunder. They own the first and second picks.

"I don't see myself falling below two," he said during his pre-draft media availability on Thursday.

For those expected to go later, it's not as easy to nail down. Deni Avdija didn't work out for the Wizards in 2020 because no one thought he would fall to them at ninth overall. Then, he did.

So, all of that should be kept in mind when it comes to where Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin has worked out so far. During his Thursday press conference, he said there have only been three teams. Those are the Pistons, Pacers and Blazers; owners of the fifth, sixth and seventh overall picks.

If that range holds true, he wouldn't be available when the Wizards are picking at No. 10. He did, however, interview with the Wizards at the draft combine last month and he did the same with the Spurs, who pick ninth.

If Mathurin were to fall to the 10th pick, he would likely be on the very short list of best players available for the Wizards to select. He's one of the most explosive athletes in the draft and an above-average 3-point shooter, having knocked down 38.3% of his threes on 5.0 attempts per game in college.

Mathurin, though, has seen his stock soar following the NCAA Tournament when he scored 30 points and threw down a monster dunk against TCU in the second round.

"A big part of the U.S. wasn’t able to watch me play [due to the time zone]. I took advantage of March Madness to showcase my talent and I feel like it was a great chance for people to see what I’m able to do," Mathurin said.

Mathurin played two seasons at Arizona. As a sophomore, he averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

A standout trait of Mathurin's is his intensity and competitive fire. He had a lot of big dunks in college and it was common to see him celebrate passionately afterward. 

Mathurin has drawn praise from NBA scouts for his demeanor on the floor.

"I think the fire in me comes from when I was a young kid. I always wanted to be the best. I love winning, so it was all about winning for me. That’s really what my fight comes from," he said.

Mathurin explained during his conference call that different parts of his background have shaped who he is today. He credited his sister for guiding him through life, especially after his brother passed away.

Mathurin says his brother's memory is a source of inspiration in life and in basketball.

"He’s the reason why I keep going every day in life," he said.

Mathurin also talked about his upbringing in Montreal, Canada. He said fellow Montrealer and Thunder guard Lu Dort is the player he most looks forward to playing against in the NBA. Dort is older than Mathurin, so they never faced off on the court despite knowing each other well.

"He calls me little bro, but I’m going to show him that it’s me, the big bro," Mathurin joked.

If the Wizards have the chance to draft Mathurin and end up doing so, he would check off several boxes in terms of their needs. They need backcourt depth, athleticism, upside and outside shooting.

Wherever Mathurin goes, he believes he can help that team sooner than later.

"I might be a rookie, but I want to have an impact right away. I want to come in and show people what I can do and just help my team win," he said.

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