Jaden Ivey and the Detroit Pistons will make their Summer League debut on Thursday and fans are excited to see the #5 pick for the first time.
Most of the talk has revolved around his offense, his elite speed, jaw-dropping athleticism and high-flying dunks that draw comparisons to guys like Russell Westbrook and Ja Morant and are going to land him on a ton of highlight reels.
But that speed works on both ends, and not nearly as much attention has been paid to the fact that Ivey could be an elite defender, just ask his former Purdue coach Matt Painter, who had this to say about Ivey on the defensive end:
“He can be an elite defender…He could be just as good of a defensive player as he is an offensive player. That’s what gets you excited about his potential beyond college — he could be a great two-way player as a pro.”
Though Ivey’s traditional defensive stats aren’t going to jump out at you (.9 steals and .6 blocks per game in his final season at Purdue), he does some things on defense that other guys simply can’t, using his speed and athleticism to be a menace on the defensive end.
Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey’s defense is about athleticism and effort
Dennis Rodman was one of the greatest defenders of all time mostly because of his elite athleticism and the fact that he tried harder than everyone else on the floor.
Ivey’s defense has a similar feel, as he will chase guys through screens and just keep coming even after it looks like he is out of the play. His closing speed allows him to stay with guys and get blocks after it looks like he’s been taken out, as we see here, where Ivey fights through multiple screens and looks to be a step behind before closing at the last second for the block.
In this clip, Ivey once again battles over multiple screens and looks to be taken out of the play before closing on the shooter for the block. Few players have the recovery speed and athleticism to make that play.
In addition to his athleticism and effort, Ivey has a 6-foot-9 wingspan that helps him to close out and get deflections in the passing lanes. He only averaged 1.8 fouls per game, so he is able to fly around but close out in control and avoid fouls.
He does a good job of jumping passing lanes and then taking it the other way, as you can see here.
I also love that he grabbed 4.2 defensive rebounds per game, as defensive rebounding is the final step to a stop and Ivey can turn those into a one-man fast break in the blink of an eye.
However, Ivey does gamble a bit too much, which is something he’ll have to avoid in the NBA, as the offensive players are faster and more skilled and will make you pay for going for a steal and coming up short.
But all of the tools and instincts are there for Jaden Ivey to become an elite defender in the NBA, and it’s going to be fun to watch him and Cade Cunningham patrolling the perimeter this year for the Detroit Pistons.