Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey shares good and bad traits with Ja Morant

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) and Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey Credit: Allison Farrand-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) and Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey Credit: Allison Farrand-USA TODAY Sports /

Last night Ja Morant showed Jaden Ivey and the Detroit Pistons why he’s been an MVP candidate for the last two seasons.

The Grizzlies’ leader exploded for 21 points in the 3rd quarter and finished with a game-high 33 points overall.

After the game, Ivey and Morant exchanged jerseys, as the two have known each other since Ivey was a kid and his mother Niele Ivey was an assistant coach at Memphis.

Ivey has even been compared to Morant, as both are explosive athletes who play above the rim and can go end to end as fast as anyone in the league.

There is plenty Ivey can pick up from Morant, who also had to learn how to tame his electric speed and athletic ability before becoming the guy who eviscerated the Detroit Pistons last night.

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But it’s not just good qualities that Jaden Ivey shares wit Ja Morant, as Morant had a similar problem that Ivey is battling through now when he was still in the very early stages of his career.

Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey needs to improve his shot selection

Ja Morant won Rookie of the Year in 2020, and if you look at the film, you’ll see a lot of Jaden Ivey, whose game is very similar. Both guys like to explode to the rim, play fast in transition and can provide highlight reels on a nightly basis.

Morant averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 assists as a rookie, which aren’t too far ahead of Ivey’s numbers now, which is a good sign for the future.

But the comparison isn’t all positive, as Ivey does share one bad trait with the rookie Morant, and that is questionable shot selection. The biggest complaint about Morant that year (and at times since) is that he occasionally forces bad shots, getting tunnel vision when he goes to the rim or jacking up long jumpers early in the shot clock.

This would be the big complaint about Ivey this season if you were looking for one, as he too has questionable shot selection at times, especially when it comes to shooting 3-pointers early in the shot clock.

14.4 percent of Ivey’s shots come “very early” in the shot clock, which is defined as between the 18-22 second mark of the possession. He’s shooting 51 percent on the two pointers, most of which come in transition, but just 25 percent on the 3-point shots early in the shot clock.

The early shot percentage is identical to Ja Morant’s rookie season, except Morant hit 58 percent from 2-point range and 33 percent from long range on shots that came early in the possession.

Shot selection is the main reason Ivey dropped in a recent re-draft, but luckily, this is something that most high-usage rookie guards struggle with, so there is plenty of time to learn and improve as Morant has.

Morant’s early shot clock shot frequency has decreased since his rookie season as he learned to choose his spots to go quickly and when to hold back. Ivey will eventually get there too, but right now he is shooting too much early in the shot clock and you could see it affect his teammates last night, as several times they weren’t happy with Ivey’s shot selection.

Ivey needs to let the game come to him, not press and be more selective about when he shoots from long range. He’s ahead of schedule in so many areas and eventually shot selection will catch up.

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