Jaden Ivey, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound combo guard with supreme speed, athleticism, and bounciness, is tough to stop when he gets a full head of steam, especially in transition when he has space to roam. His plan A, in most instances, is to get all the way to the basket. There aren’t many defenders who can stay in front of him one-on-one. Nearly 32 percent of his shot attempts at Purdue last season came at the rim (shot 68 percent on those tries). He’s like a turbocharged sports car with a high-powered engine. Not only does he jump high, but he hangs in the air longer than the norm and has a knack for twisting his body mid-air to get shots off on drives.
Not only is Ivey super-fast and electric, but he’s also acrobatic and slick. His shifty movements and ability to change direction in a flash makes it tough for defenders to trap or isolate him. Utilizing his blend of speed, power, and craftiness, he carves up defenses and scores from different angles. If the lane is congested, that’s no concern for Ivey as he’ll slice through or around traffic by slamming on the brakes and contorting his body away from hounding defenders.
Expect Ivey’s AND-1 rate to be high in the pros. He connected on nearly 30 percent of shots while in the act of shooting last season, which is well above the norm, especially compared to the other NBA Draft prospects. Johnny Davis’ AND-1 rate was 20 percent, Bennedict Mathurin’s was 22 percent, Paolo Banchero’s was 27 percent and Jabari Smith Jr.’s was 20 percent. Ivey, built well to handle a physical brand of basketball, took 207 free throws in 2021-22, third-most in the Big Ten and 17th-most in the country. Against Rutgers on Feb. 20, he took 18 foul shots and made 15 of them, the most by a Boilermaker since Willie Deane knocked down 17 of them in a 2003 game against Ohio State.
One would think that Ivey’s defense would suffer because of the amount of energy he exerts on the offensive end. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’ll chase shooters around screens, get into the air space of ball handlers on the perimeter, use his nearly 6-foot-9 wingspan to deflect passes, and frustrate opponents with his tenacity and dynamism. He even had a few jaw-dropping blocks with Purdue last season. He only averaged 1.8 fouls, low for someone so determined to cause disruption.
Areas to Improve
Is Ivey more of a point guard or a shooting guard? That’s one of the big questions surrounding the 20-year-old Indiana native. Eric Hunter Jr. and Isaiah Thompson handled the ball a lot for Purdue last season, but Ivey ran the show plenty as well, especially in transition. Results were mixed. Sometimes, Ivey made great reads, while other times tunnel vision led to a poor shot or a turnover. The Boilermakers led the Big 10 in assists last season, with Ivey averaging a team-best 3.1 of them. However, at times, he was careless with the ball, lost his balance on drives, or bulldozed over defenders while zipping down the lane.
A big reason why Ivey is in contention to be a top three or four pick is because of how much his 3-point shooting improved this past season. He went from shooting 25.8 percent from downtown his freshman campaign to 35.8 percent as a sophomore. But, critics are still wary of his outside shooting, especially considering he made just 16 of his 59 3-point attempts (27.1 percent) over his last 11 games. Also a struggle for him was his mid-range shooting. He knocked down just two of his 23 attempts (8.7 percent) throughout his sophomore season from 10 to 15 feet out.
Ceiling: Ja Morant, Dwyane Wade, Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo
Others he's like: Hamidou Diallo, Archie Goodwin
Hometown: South Bend, Indiana
Strengths: Explosiveness, Speed, Shiftiness, Creativity, Finishing at Basket, Initiating Contact, Defensive Potential, Transition Offense
Weaknesses: Erratic Shooting, Ball Control, Decision Making
College Roundup: Scored in double figures in 33 of his 36 games during his sophomore season at Purdue, including erupting for 20 points or more 14 times. Recorded two double-doubles, including on Nov. 20 against UNC when he had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Made first-team All-Big Ten in 2022 and was named a consensus second-team All-American.
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