Detroit, MI – Detroit Pistons guard Jaden Ivey is hitting his stride and proving himself on both ends of the court. And most importantly, head coach Monty Williams has taken notice of his efforts. Over the last fifteen games Ivey has averaged 18.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and five assists with increased effort on the defensive end.
Entering the season many fans were eager to see the backcourt pairing of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. But Williams had other plans. Williams is known as a coach that values veteran players with some time under their belts. Which changed the way lineups looked heading into his first season as the Pistons coach.
Rookie Ausar Thompson was forced into action and bypassed the philosophy due to injuries at the wing position to start the year. But Ivey didn’t receive the same consideration and was given bench role backing up fourth year guard Killian Hayes. Although observers wanted Ivey to start, a lack of minutes and opportunity confused them even more so.
And Ivey’s performance last season putting up numbers similar to Cunningham’s rookie year made the situation even more head scratching. But coach Williams, perceived as one of the best coaches in the NBA, deserved time to see if there was a method to the madness.
The longer the season went on and losses piled up, the more it was clear Ivey needed to get more playing time.
Through it all Jaden Ivey has remained patient, understanding and willing to learn from the situation and coach Williams.
“Im trying to learn every single day,” Ivey said. “Monty (Williams) is trying to figure out every body and Im trying to figure out the system. We’re a growing team.“
From the beginning of training camp to the last press conference from Ivey he’s maintained a mature disposition and handled the adversity well. He’s spoken of the benefit of buying in for the sake of the team and growth of his own game. And as the son of a coach and former pro athletes it’s easy to see he took their advice and teaching to heart. Regardless of being pressed about a bench role or his minutes, Ivey has moreover responded with a positive outlook on the matter.
Some players allow these types of situations to create team issues that can spill out to the public, but Ivey has focused on working to get better each every day.
“Im just trying to figure out the best ways to help this team. Both offensively and defensively. But my effort on the defensive end has to be there every night.
Learning Through Adversity
Furthermore as Ivey is learning, coach Williams has admitted to be doing just the same. And giving Ivey more opportunities is particularly one area he has vowed to correct. While the injury to Cade Cunningham is very unfortunate, it’s provided a clear look at who Ivey can be with the basketball in his hands. And Williams is seeing the growth in Jaden Ivey’s game, as well as his potential fit when Cunningham returns to action.
“I’ve seen so much growth in our game and competitive edge,” Williams said. “We’re watching a young player (Ivey) grow up and improve all over the court.”
One of those areas is evidently the defense of Ivey which has been a topic of conversation whether he gets playing time or not. But he’s made strides in that area too. It’s something coach Williams has challenged Ivey on since training camp, and has seen the improvements.
“Im proud of the way he’s defended. This is something we think he can do on a consistent basis.”
But rather than take any credit for putting players in a better position to succeed as of late, Williams deflected.
“I’m still learning about these guys. Hitting my stride would be giving far too much credit.”
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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports