Mathurin shows why Jaden Ivey’s slump is not for long

Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Jaden Ivey has suffered a slump after a fast start for the Detroit Pistons rookie. Is it something to be concerned about? Look at how another highly-drafted rookie, Bennedict Mathurin, is doing, could be an indicator.

While the Pistons selected 6-foot-5 guard Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 pick in the NBA Draft, he was universally acknowledged as the fourth rated player. The Sacramento Kings took Iowa forward Keegan Murray with the No. 4 pick because, well, the Kangz kind of go to a different drummer – and Ivey made it clear he was not thrilled with the prospect of being there.

Ivey looked great in the brief time he played in summer league and also stood out at the start of the season. Coach Dwane Casey installed him as the backcourt mate to Cade Cunningham. Things were going well, as the pair seemed to flourish, Cunningham with his deliberateness and fine passing, Ivey with his electric ability to drive to the hoop.

But since November 9, since Cunningham left the lineup, Ivey has struggled a bit.

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Not counting the Hornets game, Ivey, over the previous eight games, was shooting 34-percent from the field and 24-percent on three-point attempts, according to Mlive.

Is that good? No.

Is Ivey’s shooting woes something to be concerned about? Well, it is interesting that another high draft pick is also struggling with their shot at the same time.

Bennedict Mathurin in same boat as Jaden Ivey

Another rookie being talked about in the media as slumping was the Indiana Pacers’ Bennedict Mathurin. 

He was picked by Indiana at No. 6,  immediately after the Pistons selected Ivey. Like the Purdue product, Mathurin had a quick start to the season, and immediately put himself in the discussion for Rookie of the Year.

And like Ivey, Mathurin, out of nowhere, developed a problem shooting the basketball.

Between November 25 and December 12, Mathurin shot 10 for 52 on three-point st for an 19.2 percent shooting percentage.

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Is that good? No.

Is it coincidental that the No. 5 and 6 draft picks hit a shooting slump at the same time? No

‘The Wall’ for rookies is being hit

Almost every rookie, at some point, hits ‘The Wall’ during the NBA season.

The reasoning is quite simple. Players are playing in many more games than they ever did in high school or college. There is no ‘winter break’ where school is let out. School is done, you are a professional now. But the Body is not used to so much, well, body usage.

For instance, last year Ivey played 36 games for the Boilermakers. With the Pistons, he has already appeared in 27 games (and he missed a few due to injury he normally would have been in). So, a week before Christmas, Ivey’s NBA schedule has him playing almost as many games he did in the entire 2021-22 college season.

Now, he does not have to attend classes or mandatory study halls, so he has more time to keep his conditioning up, but it is still a shock to the system.

Most colleges only play twice a week, where an NBA team can have 5 to 6 games. Totally different animal.

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So, it is not surprising that, after a few months of the NBA grind, that Ivey and Mathurin’s legs might feel a bit heavy, affecting their shooting, hence their respective shooting slumps.

The Wall can be breached

The good news is, when you are 20-years-old,  you can recover quickly. It looks like Mathurin has, so Ivey should shortly be joining him.

Ivey scored 13 points, had four assists and three rebounds in the Pistons win over Charlotte. Importantly, he shot a solid 5 of 9 from the field and looked comfortable in the offense

Was he good? Yes.

Ivey then went back to slumping, making just 2-of-9 shots for five points in a loss to Sacramento.

Mathurin came out of his slump in dramatic fashion, pumping in 24 points, going 4-for-7 on three-pointers, to help the Pacers beat the Golden State Warriors. He followed that performance up by scoring 22 points against Cleveland, although he was only 2-for-6 from three-point land.

Does it appear that Ivey and Mathurin can get back on track? Yes.

The rookie wall can be breached, but every player is on his own timetable.

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Note: Rookie Keegan Murray, the No. 4 pick, looked great against Detroit, but he had laid a stinker three days earlier, scoring just three points in a loss to the 76ers. Proving every rookie has ups and downs.

With Cade Cunningham out for the year, the Pistons will need Ivey’s skill on offense. Even with his recent struggles, Ivey is still second to only Bojan Bogdanovic in scoring (not counting Cunningham), so, when Ivey’s shooting woes finally disappear, it will be very good news for Detroit.