The Detroit Pistons were ecstatic when Jaden Ivey fell to them with the 5th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, as he was one of the players atop their big board.
Jaden Ivey was one of the best players in college basketball last season, averaging 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the Purdue Boilermakers.
There are some players who look great in college but end up flaming out in the NBA, but with Ivey it could be the opposite, as he has the type of game that should be even better in the NBA, especially when matched with Cade Cunningham in the backcourt, as the two make an ideal duo.
We’ve seen college stars like Dwyane Wade and Donovan Mitchell turn into superstars in the NBA, and Jaden Ivey’s game could be unlocked in a similar way.
Detroit Pistons: How the NBA will unlock Jaden Ivey’s game
Obviously the competition in the NBA is much better than in the NCAA, but Ivey will also have much better teammates.
This is a guy who thrives in space and is an elite finisher around the rim, two things that are hard to do when you play with a gigantic 7-foot-4 center (Zach Edey) who rarely left the lane and wasn’t very good in the pick and roll.
Ivey was left creating for himself most of the time, with a 28.6 percent usage rate in college. In the NBA, he’ll not only have other guards who can get him the ball and take some of the pressure off, but also bigs like Isaiah Stewart and Kelly Olynyk who can create some space by popping out for jump shots on the pick and roll, something Ivey did not have in college.
Having a playmaker like Cade Cunningham will also help get Ivey more open looks from behind-the-arc, an area where he is rapidly improving. He jumped from 25.8 percent to 35.8 percent between his freshman and sophomore years of college and even though the NBA three-pointer is longer and the defenders are better, Ivey is going to get more open looks than he did in college, which should lead to another leap.
An athlete like Ivey, who has elite end-to-end speed, is going to thrive in the pace and space of the NBA, and I think we’ll see an even better version of him than the star we saw in college.