Ivey entered the draft as a consensus top-four prospect, so the Pistons were considered big winners when he fell to them at five. As a prospect, Ivey has a wide range of outcomes. On one hand, his physical gifts give him arguably the highest upside of any draft prospect in this draft.
On the other hand, Ivey needs to improve several parts of his game he needs to improve to become a winning player in the NBA. Fortunately, for both Ivey and the Pistons, he landed in the perfect spot to work out the kinks in his game while helping the Pistons right away.
What Jaden Ivey brings right away to the Detroit Pistons
Ivey will be very good at these things right from the start in the NBA.
Jaden Ivey can get to top speed in an instant with one of the best first steps in the league, allowing him to get to the rim seemingly at will. With Ivey in the fold, the Pistons lineup should be much harder to defend. He can collapse the defense against mismatches or a second-side creator and either finish at the rim or make the pass to a shooter or cutter. This added dimension will take the pressure off Cade and create open shots for other teammates.
Another product of Ivey’s speed is his proficiency in transition. Ivey loves to jump passing lanes, grab rebounds and go, and leak out for good reason. In transition, Ivey is a chore to stop. With his speed, most defenders won’t have a chance to get in front of him.
If they do, he can finish through contact drawing a foul or an and-1. Even if multiple defenders corral him, Ivey does a great job finding shooters in the open floor. This is an underrated part of his game; if it translates, he will be a menace in the open floor for defenders to stop.
Where Detroit Pistons first-round pick Jaden Ivey needs to improve.
These are not necessarily areas where Ivey is bad, but just areas where Ivey needs to get more consistent.
Last season, Jaden Ivey greatly improved from three, jumping 10% up to 35.8% on the season (per Sports Reference). This does not tell the whole story of his season.
Ivey started the season on a tear hitting 44% on 4.75 attempts a game during the first 20-game stretch. After that, Ivey cooled off hitting 26% from three for the final 16-game stretch. It did look like Ivey may have lost some of his legs as the season progressed as he was tasked with all the Boilermakers’ perimeter shot creation. Even in the slump, Ivey did shoot significantly better on catch and shoot verse shooting off the dribble.
This should work well for the Pistons as Ivey won’t be relied on to create his own shot from three with Cade and Saddiq Bey in the lineup. Plus, Ivey will get to work with John Beilein, who is known for working with shooters.
Advanced shot creation
Ivey will be a great driver in the NBA, but to maximize his abilities, he must add counters to his offensive game. To add these counters, Ivey will need experience more than anything. Getting Ivey reps running the offense should be a major focus of the season. In Detroit, Ivey should be able to get these reps, but he won’t feel the pressure of being the main shot creator with Cade in the lineup.
In these reps, the coaches should have Ivey focus on a few parts of his game. Ivey should mainly focus on his passing. Ivey is capable of hitting basic reads at this point, but he will need to improve on making advanced reads to exploit NBA defenses.
Additionally, Ivey must develop a midrange game for when defenses load up to stop him from driving. Ivey struggled mightily in the midrange in college, and to become a dependable shot-creator, he will need a reliable jumper or floater.
The Pistons have the potential to hit a home run with their selection of Jaden Ivey. Ivey has all the potential to be a star in due time. To get there, Ivey needs development in certain parts of his game. With Cade Cunningham next to him in the backcourt, Ivey is in a great spot to gain experience without ruining his confidence.
Ivey can focus on his strengths as a driver while slowly getting more reps as a pick and roll handler and shot creator. With these reps, Ivey should develop into a dangerous partner for Cade Cunningham.