In a three player draft, it might be the fourth selection that offers the highest ceiling.
Purdue guard Jaden Ivey has been taken 5th in the 2022 draft by the Detroit Pistons.
Jaden Ivey, the 6’4” guard from Purdue University, is the best athlete in the draft, a whiz of blur-inducing burst and high flying acrobatics at the rim. He’s the first guard taken off the board in a draft full of near seven foot tall talented wings and bigs.
Ivey’s a ball dominant, multi-level scoring threat that’s thundering dunks almost pale in comparison to his acrobatics with both hands around the rim.
His mother is the head coach of the Notre Dame Women’s basketball team and he practically grew up in the Memphis Grizzlies locker room when she was coaching in the NBA. This is notable because the player Ivey most resembles is Ja Morant, who has taken the league by storm in his first two seasons with his high-flying highlights. Ivey has a similar body, a herky jerky driving game with boosters attached to his sneakers when he decides to take off. Part of what’s most exciting about his game is his ability to draw an entire defense to him in the paint, hang in the air, and diagnose the court while in mid air and find an open teammate. A move that Morant has pretty much patented at this point or at least reinvented. He’s about to have some competition for brand.
Ivey sky rocketed up the NBA draft board after a successful but slow-starting freshman year at Purdue led into a showcase showing in the U19 Fiba World Cup Tournament where he was the biggest highlight and one of the best players in the tournament, making the All-tournament team. His sophomore year at Purdue, he added range to his game, and did a little bit of everything on the floor. He averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on his way to becoming an All-American.
Ivey has elite size for a guard, with a long wing span, and tremendous athleticism. Spectacular plays on both sides of the floor were common even if his defense was inconsistent. He lacked elite strength against bigger wings and guards and his attention lacked, but his frame is wide and he plays bigger at the rim on both sides of the floor. Some of his best highlights on the season are chase down blocks in transition and steals he turned into open floor dunks in the blink of the eye. But he’ll need to add attention to detail, consistent effort, and intent on defense to get to an NBA level on that side of the ball.
With the ball in his hands, Ivey rivals some of the fastest and most explosive guards in the last two decades. He’s Russel Westbrook in transition. He will outrun every player on the floor. He was capsize defenses in pick and rolls and burst buy close outs on the wings.
But unlike Westbrook, Ivey’s jump shot is on the rise. He raised his three point percentage over a 100 points from his freshman season to nearly 36%. He added a step back jumper and became a much improved catch and shoot jump shooter.
But his ability to probe, attack, and break defenses with the ball in his hand, particularly in the pick and roll, is what teams will be salivating over. Ivey isn’t going to be an All-Star from day one, but his athleticism, work ethic, and IQ will make him an absolute can’t miss prospect. His floor is as an elite scorer, either as your second guard, or lead guard off the bench. He can play point or off ball, helping a wing play maker with ball handling duty or take pressure off a lead guard.
If he maximizes on his potential, he will fall into a Ja Morant role. A point guard who is capable of scoring at every level, growing his play making, and running an entire offense through. Out of all the players in the draft, his potential as a scorer is the highest.
Ivey was fourth on most experts boards, but the Sacramento Kings decided to buck trends and go with another Big Ten player instead, Keegan Murray.
Instead, Ivey will pair up with last year’s number 1 pick Cade Cunningham in Detroit for the Pistons. He’ll be joining another Boilermaker as well, Carsen Edwards, who signed with the Pistons at the end of last season.