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Purdue Basketball: Scouting the Freshmen - Jaden Ivey

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Drew takes a look at Jaden Ivey’s game.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Purdue Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Jaden Ivey Scouting Report

Physical Ability

You can tell Jaden grew up around a basketball court and a weight room, because he looks like he’s carved from granite. He’s listed at 6’4”, 200 pounds on Purdue’s official roster, and based on his physique, that puts him around 0% body fat. Dude is cut up.

On top of being an Adonis, he’s an explosive athlete who will attempt to dunk on anyone that stands between him and the basket. His strength allows him to absorb contact at the rim and finish, which is a nice bonus.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to pack on muscle during his time at Purdue. He’s been in and around college weight rooms most of his lifting life, and subsequently, may not get the same immediate boost from Purdue’s strength and conditioning program (only because he’s in great shape already) that some players get, but it wouldn’t surprised me to see him playing around 215-220 by the end of his career in West Lafayette.

Skill Set

Offense

I’m a little worried about this section.

I try to keep things peaceful, but I’m afraid I might incite some of y’all to internet violence with my comparison, but...his skill set is a weird combo of Ronnie Johnson and Bryson Scott in Kelsey Barlow’s body.

Before you head out to the shed to sharpen your pitchfork and check on your torch fuel, let me explain.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

If I had to pick one of the aforementioned players, I mostly see a 6’4” Bryson Scott. Ivey is a freight train when he decides to take the ball to the hoop, and he’s driving to score. If someone gets in the way, he’s going to try and go over, around...or occasionally through them. That was also Bryson’s game as a freshman.

At the same time, he’s more efficient around the hoop than Bryson. Scott averaged 4.9 2 point attempts a game as a freshman. Ivey is currently averaging 4.9 2 point attempts as a freshman. Bryson hit on 36% of his 2 point attempts, Jayden is hitting 48% of his 2 point attempts. If you’re going to force the issue at the rim like Jayden does, you need to hit around 50% of those attempts. He’s doing that as a freshman, and should only get better with experience.

Unlike Bryson, who attempted .4 3 pointers a game as a freshman, Jayden is attempting 3.1 3 pointers a game, and is hitting an atrocious 18%. That’s where I see some Ronnie Johnson in his game. In fact, their jumper shot form is similar. Both uncork flat shots that look more like pushes than traditional jumpers (like Newman’s for example), but that doesn’t stop Ivey from letting them fly. Ronnie was a 16% 3 point shooter as a freshman, but he only attempted 1.1 3’s a game. That’s not to say Jaden shouldn’t be shooting 3’s because at some point, it has to be part of his game. You’re going to continue to see teams play off Jaden and invite him to shoot until he proves he can put a few in the bucket. The only way to do that is to let them rip and let gravity sort it out.

Finally, he brings the fearlessness verging on recklessness like Barlow. They have similar lean, strong builds and a penchant for dunking on people. Granted, Jaden seems to have better control over his emotions, but is certainly an emotional player. He seems to be able to focus his intensity for good and doesn’t cross over to the dark side like Kelsey.

For whatever reason, Jayden’s jumper is B-U-S-T-E-D at the moment. It’s weird, because he came to Purdue with the reputation as a functional, if not good, outside shooter. Jerry Meyer, (247 sports director of basketball scouting) said Jayden, “excels at making tough shots off the dribble and is a good 3-point shooter.” He’ll occasionally pull out a pull up jumper that makes you stop and take notice, but otherwise, his shooting outside of 5 feet has been poor. His shooting problems extend to the free throw line and that could be a huge issue for the burley guard who wants to bully his way to the rim at every opportunity. If he’s going to be a slasher with a wonky outside shot, he’s got to hit his free throws. This number needs to be around 70-75%, minimum with his style of play.

Other than that, his handles are fine, if not excellent for a wing. He can get to where he wants on the floor and has the strength to hold a defender off with his off hand while driving towards the rim. As I mentioned above, when he’s in attack mode, the passing part of his brain shuts down, but overall, he’s an adequate passer. He’s currently averaging 1.6 assists per game, which isn’t great, but he’s only tuning it over .9 times a game. That’s solid for a true freshman, and a good sign for the future.

High School (AAU) Highlights

Purdue Highlights

Skill Set - Defense

Like most freshmen, it’s all about consistency on defense for Jaden. He has all the physical tools to be a lock down defender and is absolutely fearless on the court. He’s going to eventually get put on a poster because he’s not afraid to jump with bigger players and try and swat them at the rim. If you haven’t been put on a poster in college at some point, it’s because you’re not playing hard enough, and Ivey plays hard all the time.

He can guard 1-3, but I eventually see his calling as a lock down wing. A mature Ivey and Newman defensive tandem on the wings will have coaches up late crunching on tums and trying to figure out how to score against the Boilermakers.

Stats

(all stats are per game averages)

Min - 18.6

FG% - .366

3pt% - .186

Reb - 2.8

Ast - 1.6

Pts - 8

Advanced Stats

Offense

PER - 14

Usage - 27.9

Points Produced - 11

Offensive Win Shares - .3

Steal% - 1.4

Block% - 2.1

Defensive Rebounding% - 13.3

Defensive Win Shares - .4

Areas in Need of Improvement

His ability to hit a jump shot will determine his fate in basketball. He has the body, athleticism, and mind set to play in the NBA, but he doesn’t have the jump shot. I’m not a “shot doctor” but his release looks suspect. He shoots the ball in front of his face, and his follow through tends to be out, instead of up. Subsequently, his shots come out flat and hot. He has no margin for error. If his shot hits anything other than net, it’s coming off.

He’s putting the work in, but I wonder how effective a shooter he can be with his current release. I think late close outs bother him because his jumper is begging to be blocked. Strangely enough, he’s faced with the same question Nojel Eastern dealt with at Purdue.

Do you scrap the entire thing and try and start over?

Do you practice the inefficiency until the sheer number of reps makes the shot efficient?

Nojel decided to avoid those questions by giving up on shooting all together. I don’t think you’ll see that with Jaden. He’s got the work ethic and desire to get this fixed one way or another. If he can get it ironed out and be a threat to score in every facet of the game (deep, mid range, rim) instead of teams begging him to shoot from deep while clamping down on the lane, the sky, as they say, is the limit.

If the stars don’t align and the jumper stays busted, he’ll still be an excellent college basketball player, but you don’t see many guards in the NBA who can’t shoot from deep.

Overall

This kid has prodigious talent and the drive required to be elite. If he gets his outside shot fixed, he could be the best all around scoring guard since E’Twaun Moore. Ivey is too good, even with a busted jump shot, to keep off the floor, and will be a multi-year starter for the Boilermakers.

If Purdue makes a Final 4 over the next 3 or 4 years it will be because Jaden takes the next step in his progression and reaches his full potential. One thing is for certain, he’s going to give everything he has to try and make that happen, and that’s all you can ask for in a player.