Jaden Ivey, Purdue
Jaden Ivey has clearly been one of the more prolific players this season. As a freshman at Purdue, he looked like a great future difference-maker for the Boilermakers, but not necessarily a star. The breakout sophomore is taking Purdue to the biggest stage and looks to make a splash when the big games begin. Though, one of the biggest questions on his mind has to be this:
What about the NBA?
It’s clearly going to happen; Ivey will be a top-5 lock in the 2022 NBA Draft and have a definite franchise-player outlook for whoever drafts him. Let’s look at some possible scenarios:
Ivey on the Pistons would immediately make this team one of the most exciting up-and-comers in the league. Just imagine Cade Cunningham throwing up lobs and Ivey soaring down for a one-handed poster. Of course, the question of who plays what position would certainly come up, as Ivey is a combo guard and won’t necessarily fit at both positions in the pros. I will go ahead and say he is more of a shooting guard, and Cunningham would take the point. Regardless, they would most certainly have their guards of the future.
The Magic definitely don’t need another young, explosive guard. This would force them to either play a weird Cole Anthony-Jalen Suggs-Jaden Ivey lineup or bench one of the three. Now, benching Suggs could be fine with this team considering he has been far from incredible for the Magic this season. Still, it would hurt his development on a team that is currently rebuilding. All in all, not a great fit, but if Ivey is as good as advertised then it might be something the Magic could take a chance on.
Portland Trail Blazers
This is not the most likely scenario, but I am very intrigued by it. If the Trail Blazers do happen to trade Damian Lillard and go for a full rebuild then this would create an amazing young backcourt of Anfernee Simons and Jaden Ivey. These two high-fliers would essentially turn Portland into one of the most entertaining teams in the league. If the Blazers don’t trade Dame, then this will probably never happen. But I like the idea of it.
He’s 6’4″ and can shoot, pass, dribble, dunk, lay it up with either hand, and guard his opponents relentlessly. What’s not to like? The ideal modern-day combo guard, Jaden Ivey easily draws comparisons to Ja Morant, Dwyane Wade, and even Russell Westbrook. He drives to the hoop with only one thought in his mind: to score. Whether he dazzles with a pretty left-handed reverse layup or a no-look hanging-in-the-air pass to a waiting Zach Edey or Trevion Williams, he finds a way to get the ball in the basket.
Then we look at his jumpshot. Ivey only hit around 26% of his threes as a freshman, giving the impression that his stats (11.1 points a game) might just be empty calories next to his horrendous efficiency. That was clearly a misguided concept. Ivey is now shooting slightly over 38% from 3-point range while knocking down almost two a night. This is a vast improvement for a virtual non-shooter the year before. And it might almost make me compare this sophomore leap to that of…
Ceiling: Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell’s numbers as a freshman: 7.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists on 25% shooting from 3.
Ivey’s: 11.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists on 26% shooting from 3.
Huh, similar. Let’s look at their sophomore stats.
Mitchell’s: 15.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists on 35% shooting from 3.
Ivey’s: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3.1 assists on 38% shooting from 3.
As one can see, they had very similar breakouts in their sophomore seasons, both shooting over 10% better from deep. It just goes to show how a lot of work can really improve your craft.
Floor: Eric Bledsoe
If Ivey’s floor is Eric Bledsoe, he is still a very good player. If that jumpshot simply does not convert to the NBA game, then he could find himself in more of this range. Bledsoe has historically only shot about the mid 30s in terms of 3-point percentages at his best. He is still a good slashing guard and can pass, defend, and rebound relatively well. He is by no means a star, but Ivey could find himself as a very good starter if this hypothetical comes true.
Conclusion: Based on how well Purdue has been playing this year, one can only imagine that Ivey deserves a boatload of the credit. That he does, and more. But in terms of the NBA, he hasn’t even started yet on what should be prodigious career for one of the blossoming young stars entering the draft this year.