The 2022-23 NBA season officially began Tuesday, with two games, but Wednesday’s slate of 12 contests is when the real action happened. It’s also when two of Arizona’s most recent draft picks made their league debuts, both impressively.
Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko had impressive first professional games on Wednesday, while we’ll have to wait a few more days until Dalen Terry gets to show the skills that prompted the Chicago Bulls to use their first-round pick on him in June.
Mathurin, who was taken sixth overall by the Indiana Pacers, did not start at home against the Washington Wizards but may start soon enough after his first outing. In 28 minutes off the bench he had 19 points (on 7-of-15 shooting, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range) and also has seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in Indiana’s 114-107 home loss.
Also in that game: ex-UA guard TJ McConnell, who had eight points and four assists in 17 minutes. But while Mathurin had a +9, meaning Indiana outscored Washington by nine when he was on the court, McConnell had a minus-8.
Mathurin wowed the home crowd with his play, though it was nothing new for UA coach Tommy Lloyd, who was in attendance.
.@BennMathurin to the hoop. pic.twitter.com/28ITmqf1iA— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 20, 2022
Koloko, a second-round pick of the Toronto Raptors, had three points, six rebounds and a block in 15 minutes a 108-105 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Koloko was only 1 of 4 from the field, but that lone basket looked familiar to what he did last season at the UA.
Rook with AUTHORITY ‼️ @kolokojunior1 pic.twitter.com/8EDhVYer1v— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 20, 2022
Terry, whom Chicago took with the 18th pick, did not play in the Bulls’ 116-108 road win over the Miami Heat. Coach Billy Donovan used only nine players, with Coby White and Goran Dragic the only guards on the bench to get minutes.
Terry averaged 16 minutes during Chicago’s four preseason games, shooting 55 percent from the field in the process. The Bulls’ next game is Friday at Washington, followed by a home game Saturday against Cleveland, so hopefully Terry’s debut will come in one of those games.
Elsewhere on Wednesday night:
- Lauri Markkanen, traded from Cleveland in September as part of the Donovan Mitchell deal, had 17 points for his new team in the Utah Jazz’s 123-102 home win over the Denver Nuggets. Markkanen was 6 of 12 from the field and made 3 of 7 3-pointers, including this one:
Laur-3!#TakeNote pic.twitter.com/bpY1bo1LTA— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) October 20, 2022
- Denver got a double-double from ex-Wildcat Aaron Gordon in the loss, with Gordon going for 22 points and 10 rebounds. Fellow UA alum Zeke Nnaji did not play, the only member of the Nuggets’ 16-player active roster not to get into the game.
- Deandre Ayton, fresh off getting his big contract, had 18 points (on 8-of-11 shooting) and 10 rebounds in the Phoenix Suns’ 107-105 comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks. It was the 128th double-double in 237 career games for Ayton, who signed a 4-year, $133 million deal in July.
- Josh Green played 18 minutes for Dallas. He did not attempt a field goal and finished with one point, four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block (and a +18, while star Luka Doncic had a minus-16 despite scoring 35 points).
- Besides Nnaji and Terry, the only other former Wildcat currently in the NBA who hasn’t played yet is Andre Iguodala, who was inactive for the Golden State Warriors in Tuesday’s 123-109 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Igoudala is entering his 19th and final season.