Some uncomfortable questions about Jaden Ivey after preseason

Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (23) Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey (23) Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /
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Detroit Pistons, Killian Hayes
Killian Hayes #7 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

When the Detroit Pistons drafted Jaden Ivey with the 5th pick in 2022, they hoped they were getting a part of their future core.

Ivey didn’t disappoint, as he had a solid rookie season and flashed star power on the offensive end. He had glaring flaws on defense and turned the ball over too much but most would agree Ivey showed enough to be part of the long-term plans.

We all penciled him into the starting lineup for the season without giving it a second thought, but new head coach Monty Williams had other ideas, as he brought Ivey off the bench in all but one preseason game.

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But it wasn’t just his role that was concerning, Ivey’s performance also raised some uncomfortable questions. You can’t make too much of the preseason, and it’s possible all of these questions will look silly in hindsight, but I’d be lying if I said I was completely confident in Ivey’s future with the Detroit Pistons.

Uncomfortable questions about Jaden Ivey

Is Jaden Ivey a starter?

Again, I don’t want to make too much of preseason, but if you didn’t know any better, you might think Killian Hayes was in the driver’s seat for minutes and Jaden Ivey was the one battling for a spot in the rotation.

Monty Williams has repeatedly said that defense is going to play in his rotation and made a reference to “blow by guys” having a hard time getting minutes. My thoughts immediately went to Jaden Ivey after that comment, as his defense was atrocious last season.

He was allowed to play through it as the Pistons tanked away, but if Detroit really wants to turn this around, it has to start on the defensive end and Killian Hayes may have the upper hand. With both Bojan Bogdanovic and Monte Morris out to start the season, it will be interesting to see if it is Ivey or Hayes that ends up in the starting lineup.

Ivey did not look comfortable in the preseason, took some bad shots, and turned the ball over a lot, averaging 3.3 per game. With Killian Hayes looking more comfortable on and off the ball and playing better defense, it’s very possible he is going to begin the season in the starting five.

It’s also possible that Williams was just trying to use the preseason to motivate Ivey on the defensive end, but should a top-5 pick even need that? Ivey may very well be in the starting five all season, in which case this will all be a forgotten blip.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a 6th man and it’s a role that could suit Ivey, but it would be somewhat disappointing to see a top-5 pick unable to crack the starting five of a team coming off 17 wins because his defense is not good enough.