Pistons draft Purdue's Jaden Ivey No.  5: Scouting report and how he fits

Pistons draft Purdue’s Jaden Ivey No. 5: Scouting report and how he fits

BROOKLYN – Thirty miles from where Jaden Ivey ran around as a snot-nosed 3-year-old while his mother, Niele, sprinted up and down the floor at The Palace of Auburn Hills as a member of the Detroit Shock, the Purdue star will begin his NBA career.

With the fifth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Pistons selected Ivey, who is this class’ most explosive and mesmerizing athlete. Ivey landing in Detroit comes as a bit of a surprise, as the guard was considered by many to be one of the four best prospects in this class and was reportedly the cause for many trade rumors swirling around the Sacramento Kings and the No. 4 pick. Instead, Ivey fell into Detroit’s lap, and if the franchise is lucky, completes what could be a potential backcourt tag-team with Cade Cunningham for the next decade.

What makes Ivey special pops out on the screen when you watch him. You don’t have to do much digging. He’s a blur with the ball in his hands and attacks the rim like it stole his Jordans. In college, his explosiveness and ability to attack the basket had defenses on their heels, allowing him to get open jumpers in rhythm. He’ll put fear into defenses going downhill whether in the half court or transition. Ivey was an adequate spot-up shooter in college, but it’s not a given that will immediately translate at the next level. His shooting mechanics also aren’t the cleanest.

Ivey is not a point guard – not right now, at least. He’s an off guard who can occasionally relieve Cunningham of ballhandling duties, run pick-and-rolls and be used in DHOs or coming off pindowns to put pressure on the rim. Stylistically, he’s the opposite of Cunningham, who moves to the beat of his own drum and is more methodical in his approach. However, the Pistons desperately lacked high-upside athleticism in the backcourt and the combination of these provides Detroit with, at the very least, an intriguing backcourt tandem.

The 20-year-old Ivey will need to improve as a passer and defender to reach its full potential, which many believe is All-Star status. He makes obvious reads, but you wonder if he can do the advanced stuff consistently. Ivey’s midrange game is, too, basically nonexistent. It’s layups and 3s with him, and that could be an issue by the time Detroit turns a corner. But, certainly, it’s an area of ​​his game he could improve at in the NBA. Defensively, Ivey tends to fall asleep a lot and doesn’t necessarily use his God-given abilities to his advantage on that end of the floor. At Purdue, you wondered at times if he was tired or just disinterested with defense.

Even with all that said, you can’t teach the explosiveness that Ivey carries. Guys that explosive generally tend to settle into NBA careers. There’s certainly more to unlock with him, and if he’s able to sure-up some of the IQ and focus issues, there’s a world in which the Pistons ended up with the best player in this draft class and a multiple-time All-Star.

What does The Athletic’s NBA Draft expert Sam Vecenie think of Ivey’s game?

Case: Ivey is all about how much you value athletic traits and how much you think you can fix some of the issues. There is not a guard in this class with a higher ceiling if it all comes together. His ability to get downhill with power, force and speed is an immediately translatable skill. He can separate from about any defender. But the difference with him and, say, a Ja Morant type, is what happens after. Given Morant has incredible natural feel as a passer and playmaker (plus has more vertical pop as a finisher), Ivey doesn’t have that right now and makes too many negative-value plays because of it. He’s going to get away from his man and collapse the defense, but he has to be able to make the right choice after that happens. If things go right, he could easily turn into a 25-point, six-assist guy. But the floor is something like Eric Bledsoe without the elite defense.

04.30 Top photo of Jaden Ivey: Justin Casterline / Getty Images

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