The much-anticipate NBA Draft Lottery came and went Tuesday night, giving order to the first 14 picks of next month’s draft.
With the lottery settled and the NBA Combine entering full swing in the next couple days, it’s a good time to peak at where Arizona’s NBA Draft entrees — Bennedict Mathurin, Christian Koloko and Dalen Terry — stand in the latest mock drafts.
Mathurin and Koloko declared for the NBA Draft without the option of returning to college, whereas Terry declared while maintaining his college eligibility. Terry has until June 1 to withdraw from the draft and return to Arizona, and how he does during the NBA Draft Combine that begins Wednesday in Chicago could determine what he ends up doing.
Of the five mock drafts listed, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and The Athletic offer first and second round projections, while CBS Sports and SB Nation only project the first round. Pick analyses are italicized when provided.
Mathurin: No. 11 to the New York Knicks
The Knicks had a difficult season offensively, ranking last in 2-point percentage and second to last in assist rate. This pick won’t solve all their issues, but adding an All-American wing like Mathurin, who is an outstanding perimeter shooter and looks ready to contribute immediately, could make sense, as he can play either wing spot alongside RJ Barrett and has plenty of upside to grow into at just 19 years old.
Terry: No. 39 to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Koloko: No. 40 to the Minnesota Timberwolves
Mathurin: No. 7 to the Portland Trail Blazers
Mathurin cashed in on a big opportunity at Arizona, emerging as a go-to scorer and a force in transition while polishing up his game as a playmaker and defender. He’s a high-level athlete with some untapped skill potential, and he should be able to help contribute buckets as a complementary scorer next season. Mathurin isn’t the most intuitive player, but it still feels like he’s coming into his own. He displayed confidence and character while coming up big in some notable spots over the course of the season. He’s also young for a sophomore, which makes his individual development over the past year that much more encouraging. He’s an interesting fit in Portland, which needs to find supporting scorers around Damian Lillard and could use help on the wing.
Koloko: No. 37 to the Sacramento Kings
Mathurin: No. 8 to the New Orleans Pelicans
Mathurin won Pac-12 Player of the Year this season as a terrific scorer who averaged 18 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3. His role early in his NBA career will be that of a 3-point marksman. He’s excellent as a shooter off the catch and has a bit more game than that when driving closeouts and attacking using second-side actions. If he can keep improving as a ballhandler, he might have some real upside beyond that. It also helps that he’s a terrific open-floor athlete who gets downhill with powerful leaping ability. He’s substantially improved every year, including this season, when he took legitimate strides as a passer in averaging three assists over his final 16 games. His defense will be a work in progress because his fundamentals and effort level weren’t always there. But Mathurin is a floor-spacer-plus model of a player early in his career and should make an impact on any team that needs help on the wing.
The Pelicans should continue to look to add shooting to surround a core around Zion Williamson. Mathurin fits really well as a player who could make an impact as soon as next year on a playoff team and fits really well potentially on the wing with defensive dynamo Herb Jones.
Koloko: No. 34 to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Terry: No. 39 to the Cavaliers
Mathurin: No. 9 to the San Antonio Spurs
Mathurin blossomed into one of college basketball’s biggest stars as a sophomore and helped transform Arizona into a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The 6’5 guard cemented himself as a lottery pick with deep shooting range, opportunistic cutting, and the ability to impact the game offensively without holding the ball. Mathurin’s shooting will have to be his calling card, and he hit 37 percent of his three-pointers on 225 attempts this year. He has deep range on spot-ups and more importantly showed the ability hit shots while running off screens. Mathurin’s cutting ability also jumped out on tape: he’s great at eating up the space the defense gives him in the lane, and he’s an explosive two-footed jumper when he’s near the basket. The question with Mathurin’s offense is how much juice he’s going to provide off the dribble: his handle can be a bit shaky, and he missed a fair amount of open passing windows in college. The defense could also be a tricky evaluation: Mathurin should have the quickness and length to be good defensively against smaller guards, but he’s often prone to off-ball lapses and poor technique. There are a lot of great, young combo guards in the NBA right now, and if Mathurin continues to develop as a dynamic shooter he has a good chance to join them.
Mathurin: No. 11 to the Knicks
New York was 10th in its conference in 3-point shooting percentage this season, so Mathurin’s an obvious gap-filler here in a great range. He shot 37% from the 3-point line as a sophomore with Arizona this season and has a quick, easily-projectable outside shot that will make him a valuable role-player for years to come.