Jaden Ivey was not in the starting lineup in the Detroit Pistons’ preseason loss against the Phoenix Suns.
This was surprising considering the Pistons were already down a starter with Bojan Bogdanovic out, but head coach Monty Williams went with veteran Alec Burks along with Ausar Thompson instead.
You can’t read too much into preseason, as Monty Williams said he was going to experiment with the starting lineup and made true on his promise to change it at halftime.
So we are likely to see Jaden Ivey in the starting five soon, but there are some logical reasons why Monty Williams might have left him out for the first preseason game.
A message to a “blow by guy”
Monty Williams has made it clear that he prioritizes defense and is going to give minutes to the guys who play it. He even referenced “blow-by guys” who can’t guard more than a few dribbles:
This is purely speculation on my part, but Ivey has been a “blow-by guy” in the past and this may have been a subtle reminder that he needs to improve and that his starting spot isn’t a given.
Ivey had a good game overall off the bench, but did let Eric Gordon blow by him a few times on defense, though he did have a block and a steal.
I’m not in practice, so have no idea what Monty Williams thinks about Ivey or his defense but this could have been a message to the youngster.
Bojan Bogdanovic was out and the Pistons needed more shooting
The more likely reason is simple: The Detroit Pistons needed more shooting in the starting lineup with Bogdanovic out.
This isn’t all about Ivey, I’m sure coach Williams wanted to give Cade Cunningham the best chance to succeed by putting more floor spreaders around him and thought that a starting five of Cade, Ivey, Ausar, Stewart and Duren wasn’t going to provide much space.
Ivey hit 3-of-6 of his 3-point shots and looked great on the catch-and-shoot, so he made his case for being able to provide that spacing, especially when you consider Ivey can do way more with the ball and in transition than Burks.
Monte Morris was out and the Pistons wanted to spread around their guards and scoring
Once it was revealed that Monte Morris was also out, it made more sense to move Ivey to the bench to spread around the guard depth and scoring.
Should Jaden Ivey come off the bench?
Short answer, no. I’m open to the idea only because it would allow the Pistons to always have two ballhandlers on the floor at all times. Morris/Hayes with Ivey, two shooters and a lob threat like Marvin Bagley III could work and Ivey is going to get his minutes either way.
Ultimately, Ivey should be and probably will be in the starting lineup, so I wouldn’t worry much about one preseason game, especially when Monty Williams is still getting to know his roster.