The NBA offseason is a time when a lot of excitement is built for each fanbase. Nowhere has that been more evident this year than the city of Detroit. After adding a pair of lottery picks to last year’s number one pick, the Detroit Pistons might have the most interesting young roster in the league. Next, they will look to add the elusive Rookie of the Year award to their core.
The marquee name in this draft class for the Pistons was Purdue guard Jaden Ivey. The 6-foot-4 guard was a human highlight reel in college whose athletic ability jumps off the screen. He is expected by many to step in right away and start alongside Cade Cunningham.
There is every reason to believe that this should be a fairly smooth transition to the NBA. Ivey can get to the rim at will and has the ability to create his own shot. The question is, how good can Ivey be as a rookie?
He is considered by many to be one of the favorites to win Rookie of the Year. This is not surprising considering Ivey was the 5th overall pick in the draft. However, it’s important to be clear on what this could look like and if it’s really obtainable.
Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey and the recent history of the Rookie of the Year award
Three of the last four ROTY winners have been guards. Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball thrive with the ball in their hands and make plays for themselves and those around them. Ivey would also fall into this category.
The main difference is that Ivey will not be the primary facilitator of his offense. It will be Cunningham who will run the offense for a majority of the time, with Ivey being the second guy in the pecking order to make things happen. It’s unclear if that will hurt him by giving him fewer opportunities.
What is clear is an established baseline of what ROTY guard play looks like. On average, these three totaled 18.2 points, 6.7 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game. The question that has to be answered is if Ivey can come close to those numbers.
Ivey is a student of the game with excellent intangibles. With his mother as a former WNBA player, NBA assistant coach and currently the head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team, you would expect these types of traits instilled in him. As a result, he has shown a lot of growth over his young career.
Last year, Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 3.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. Each of these categories took a jump from what he did his freshman year in 2021. This was good enough to be named an All Big Ten player in 2022.
So can this trend continue as Ivey moves to the best basketball league in the world? Time will tell, but it seems unlikely that he puts up better numbers as a rookie when the competition around him will all be getting better. This has been proven to be the case for guys like Ball and Morant as well.
But Ivey will also have better teammates on the Detroit Pistons, guys who might be able to unlock his skillset even more, so he could be even better in the pros.
Can He Do It?
So can Ivey really be the Rookie of the Year? Yes! Of course he can. He is one of the most exciting prospects entering the league and he has all the talent and intangibles that you could hope for. There is also a chance that the Detroit Pistons are better as a team, which could lead to some individual awards.
Will he do it? That’s a different question entirely. Assuming he takes a step back compared to his college stats, I’m not sure that he’d be in position to win the award. However, this isn’t to say he won’t have a very good rookie year.
In short, would I bet on Ivey being the rookie of the year? No, I would not. I think there are other guys who will get a chance to dominate the ball more than Ivey will. With that said, I certainly wouldn’t bet against him either.