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Rookies Rising: Mathurin, Nembhard brighten future for Pacers

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots against Bennedict Mathurin #00, Andrew Nembhard #2 and Jordan Nwora #13 of the Indiana Pacers in the second half at American Airlines Center on February 28, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Pacers rookies Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard wasted no time putting the NBA on notice. Two of the Association’s rising stars. Both among the top ten rookies in scoring. Both earning starting roles for the Pacers.

“Both of those guys have been tremendous. I’ve seen some redrafts of this draft, and both of them are higher than their positions,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “They both are amazing hard workers. They both have an internal drive not just to succeed in the NBA, but to do things that are special, so we’re very fortunate.”

“There’s been so many ups and downs that really allowed me to grow into the player I want to become,” Mathurin said. “A lot of adversity, and I love that. I love that for me, as I learn through that as a person and as a player.”

“You learn so much just through the experience on the court, the playing time I’ve gotten, and just like through learning from the old guys,” Nembhard said. “I think just how to carry yourself, how to manage yourself throughout a long season, both on and off the court, so a lot of things to take away from this season.”

A fresh face that’s helped the development of Mathurin and Nembhard is a familiar one — point guard George Hill. The Indy native returned home at the trade deadline in February and has spent the last two months pouring into the two rookies.

“G has been pretty good for the whole team but me, especially,” Mathurin said. “Once and a while, he tries to grab lunch, just to talk about the game, showing that love to me and showing that they really believe in me.”

Hill believes in Nembhard, as well.

“He’s special,” Hill said of Nembhard. “The way he sees the floor and the gifts he has with the ball is tremendous. He’s one of the top passers I’ve seen in a while. I think he’s more mature for his game right now, and I think he’s going to be a big help for us in the future, and I like what I see.”

“The future is very bright,” Carlisle said. “We had to get worse to get better. But in Year Two, we still have the opportunity to have great momentum heading into our draft and our summer and our free agency.

The Pacers have three games left to build that momentum.