When the Detroit Pistons drafted guard Jaden Ivey with the 5th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the immediate question was how he was going to fit with Cade Cunningham.
The biggest concern was Ivey’s shooting, as he is known as a slasher and a guy who likes to get his own shot, mostly at the rim.
Would he be able to play effectively off the ball? Would his drives into the lane create spacing issues for a Detroit Pistons team that doesn’t have much 3-point shooting around him? Would he be able to shoot the 3-point shot well enough to keep defenses from packing the lane?
The modern game has turned into mostly dunks and 3-point shots, with teams staying away from long two-point jumpers that are deemed the most inefficient shot in basketball.
Luckily, finishing at the rim and from behind the arc is exactly what Ivey does, and it’s possible he’ll thrive even more in the NBA game.
Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey at the rim and behind the 3-point line
If you asked most fans where Jaden Ivey did most of his damage last season, they’d probably say at the rim and they’d be partially correct.
According to Hoop-Math, Ivey hit an outstanding 66 percent of his shots at the rim, so when he gets there, he knows how to finish. But only 37 percent of his total shots came at the rim, so while Ivey was very efficient from this area on the floor, he wasn’t taking most of his shots there.
He actually took most of his shots from beyond the 3-point line, as 41 percent of his total shots were 3-pointers in his final season at Purdue. Ivey hit just under 36 percent of them, not an outstanding number but it was a ten point increase from his freshman season, when he hit just 26 percent.
Ivey is not thougth of as a high-volume 3-point shooter, but that’s actually what he is, as he shot over seven per game last season, so he is comfortable launching them from behind the arc and will hopefully continue to improve.
This leaves the mid-range area open for Cunningham to do his thing, and that is where he eats.
Only 22 percent of Ivey’s shots last season were two-point jumpers, so he has pretty much followed the trend in the modern NBA that values shots at the rim and 3-pointers above all else.
If Ivey can continue to improve his accuracy on 3-point shots, he could end up being one of the most efficient guards in his class next season, a guy who is either finishing his own takes (or in transition) or playing off the ball hunting the open long balls that Cade is going to create with his playmaking and gravity.
Ivey isn’t just some guy who can only dunk or launch mid-range jumpers, the 3-point shot is there and improving. He’s not just a high-flying athlete, Ivey can shoot, which is going to make him a tough cover in the NBA, where he will have more space to operate and defenders are going to have to play off him to respect his quickness.
I think there is a very good chance that Ivey will be a plus 3-point shooter in his career and that most of his other shots will be high-percentage shots at the rim, making him the kind of efficient shooting guard every team is looking for and the perfect fit with Cade.