On Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans Men’s Basketball team lost a close one against the Purdue Boilermakers. MSU attempted to come back from a 10 point deficit but ultimately fell short at the buzzer. Purdue’s 75-70 victory came in no short part thanks to Jaden Ivey. He is the top guard prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft. Ivey scored 22 points, collected nine rebounds and dished out five assists to help the Boilermakers close out the Spartans.

Ivey is the lone guard among the 2022 draft class headliners. The 20-year-old is averaging 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and three assists on the season. He is shooting 45.9 percent from the floor and 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. Ivey is an incredibly athletic guard who can deal a lot of damage on drives towards the basket. He has all the tools necessary to be a good player in the NBA. Those tools were on display against MSU.

Ivey dominates after a slow start

Ivey’s first half against the Spartans was lackluster, to say the least. The 20-year-old managed five points, six rebounds and two assists while shooting only one for six from the floor. He opened up the game knocking down his first shot from beyond the arc, but he missed all three of his other three-point attempts in the half.

In the second half, Ivey took control of the game. He got into the paint with ease and drew plenty of fouls in the process. He hustled on both sides of the court and kept the Boilermakers ahead of the Spartans in spite of MSU clawing their way back into the game.

The Detroit Pistons currently hold a tie for the best odds to land the number one pick in the 2022 draft. Placement at the top of the draft likely results in one of Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith. If Detroit lands outside of the top two or three after the lottery, Ivey will undoubtedly be sitting right up there on their draft board.

With a goal of analyzing a potential fit on Detroit’s roster, I spent the entirety of the MSU vs Purdue game with my eyes glued on Ivey. I also spoke with Woodward Sports’ MSU beat writer, Alex Mayer, for his thoughts on Ivey after Saturday’s game.

Jaden Ivey is a natural Scorer

Jaden Ivey

Mar 12, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers guard Jaden Ivey (23) shoots the ball while Michigan State Spartans guard Jaden Akins (3) defends in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ivey was phenomenal driving towards the basket against MSU. His quick-twitch athleticism allows him to accelerate towards the hoop in a sudden burst. In the paint, he is creative with his drives. Late in the game, Ivey drove in transition and pulled the ball behind his back to lose MSU’s AJ Hoggard. Ivey brought the ball up and into the hoop as he fell away and onto the ground.

Ivey has a knack for finding the right angles to get the ball to drop. He can fly through the air and contort his body to get an open look, but he is not afraid of contact. Ivey embraces contact on his drives, and he does a great job of finishing through contact as well. Many of the fouls that Ivey drew against MSU were and-ones.

He thrives with the ball in his hands. Off-ball, Ivey is lackluster. He is not a consistent shooter at this point in his career. Against MSU, he missed multiple catch-and-shoot opportunities. Both of his made three-pointers came off of isolation. His shot mechanics look fine. He just needs to put in the extra work to become a more consistent three-point shooter.

Alex Mayer: The play that jumped out the most today is of course the layup he hit practically parallel to the floor with just over a minute left. Ivey is literally a one-man fast break, and the way he contorts his body to make himself open just enough to get the ball on the glass is amazing. You can also look back to the play at the end of yesterday’s game where he euro stepped in between 3 defenders for a layup.

Ivey’s threat off the ball doesn’t jump off the page. He is a decent catch-and-shoot 3 point shooter but he prefers shooting off of an ISO. You never see him set any screens or cut because Matt Painter knows just how hard he is to guard in the pick and roll. As for if he can replicate that in the NBA, we will have to see. 

Ivey’s underrated playmaking

Ivey flashed some very solid playmaking skills. With a little under 14 minutes left in the first half, Ivey drove into the lane drawing three Spartan defenders to him. As he got near the basket, he worked the ball through the defense and into the hands of a waiting Trevion Williams who scored an easy bucket at the rim. With a little under six minutes remaining in the first half, Ivey again drew a double team, this time at the top of the key. Unfortunately for the Spartans, this left the towering 7-4 Zach Edey open in the paint. Ivey rainbowed the ball over the defense and Edey had a wide-open look at the basket.

He is not just a willing passer, Ivey is a smart passer. He finds the open man and takes advantage of opponents when they double-team, or sometimes triple-team, him in coverage. Multiple times against the Spartans, Ivey was able to dish the ball out to an open shooter when MSU collapsed on him in the paint.

Ivey commits to driving into the lane, but he does not get tunnel vision. He will bail out of a drive when he knows he will not win. On occasion, he will make some wild passes out of the paint. With a little over 15 minutes left in the second half, Ivey blindly threw the ball to the corner after he drew a double-team. Unfortunately for him, there was no Purdue player there and he turned the ball over. These mistakes did not happen often, but it is something to clean up.

Alex Mayer: His passing ability is underrated. The court vision Ivey possesses while still running down the floor at 100mph is incredible and is every corner 3pt shooters dream to be teammates with. With how fast he moves he still has the ability to be under control with his movements which allows him to throw pinpoint passes.

Jaden Ivey has the tools to be a good defender

Ivey hustled on defense. He was quick to get back in transition when MSU ran the fastbreak. The first time this happened, Ivey was unable to get positioning and ended up fouling Hoggard, awarding him an and-one. The second time Hoggard ran in transition, Ivey got in position in the paint. He timed his feet and lept alongside Hoggard at the rim. Ivey cleanly swatted Hoggard’s layup off the backboard. MSU did end up getting the putback, but Ivey did his part in transition defense.

Off-ball, Ivey has a knack for sagging off his mark and playing help-side defense. This positions him nicely to grab rebounds. It comes as no surprise that the sophomore collected nine boards against MSU since he spent a lot of time just outside the paint on the defensive end of the court. On-ball he fought through screens and played tight with his man.

Ivey was subject to multiple lapses on defense against the Spartans. More often than not these lapses did not cost Purdue. He was late to respond to a quick change of direction. Often when this happened, the 20-year-old ended up settling into position around the paint.

Alex Mayer: This could be nitpicking, but for some possessions, you can tell he is not engaged on defense which is sometimes hard to pick up on or quite frankly even care because he is so special on offense.

Ivey’s potential fit in Detroit

Ivey’s natural scoring ability would be welcome on any NBA roster. With the future of Jerami Grant up in the air, Ivey could step in as a tertiary scorer alongside Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey. He would need to improve as an off-ball scorer. Catch-and-shoot is not one of Ivey’s specialties, and his off-ball movement leaves a lot to be desired. To pair well with Cunningham, Ivey would need to work on improving both of these parts of his game.

However, the 20-year-old would take a load off of Cunningham’s shoulders. This season, Dwane Casey has consistently preached the importance of a secondary ball-handler alongside Cunningham. This is why he is paired with Cory Joseph in the starting lineup instead of Frank Jackson or Hamidou Diallo. Ivey can be a secondary ball-handler and an upgrade over Joseph in the starting backcourt.

Ivey’s ability to pass out of drives to the hoop would pair well with Cunningham and Bey. When the defense collapses on Ivey, he could locate either Cunningham or Bey for an open three-point shot. If Grant remains with Detroit next season, he would make a great outlet pass off drives as well.

The sophomore has room to grow on defense. If Casey can develop him and help him maximize his talent, he could be a pesky on-ball defender who is active on the boards.

Alex Mayer: I would love to have Ivey in a Pistons uniform, but as far as him fitting next to Cade I am not sure. Their playing styles are different for the most part, except for they both require the ball in their hands. Dwane Casey may find himself playing a lot of small-ball next year if Ivey falls into their lap around pick #4 or #5.

I can’t confidently say how I think Ivey would fit on the Pistons until I actually see it. What I will say is he is a perfect fit on Purdue who has surrounded him with big guys and shooters. In 2 or 3 years’ time, the Pistons roster makeup could be very similar and Ivey could thrive as a slasher as he did in college. Of course, Paulo Banchero is who I want in this year’s draft but Ivey is going to be an under-the-radar prospect in this class.

(Featured Image Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

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