Earlier on Saturday, the Pistons broke the news that Cade Cunningham would miss at least four games. And with Detroit’s franchise player on the sidelines, it opens up the opportunity for their rookie guard Jaden Ivey to get more touches. In his first game with the extended role, the young guard did not disappoint. Against the Boston Celtics, Ivey finished with 26 points (his career high) and shot 4-6 from beyond the arc. Despite his four turnovers and mistakes from late, Jaden more than held his own against one of the best teams in the league.
Most players who get their first 25+ point game, even in a loss, would feel pretty proud. Jaden Ivey, however, wasn’t satisfied. After the matchup against Boston, Ivey was frustrated with his late turnovers, and stated he had a “very bad game”. If those are his standards for a bad game, then sign me up for more of those, please. With the early returns thus far, one thing is clear: Jaden Ivey can play. Not only that, but the chances are high that he’s going to be a star in this league. And if he keeps that type of mentality and determination, it won’t take him long to get there.
Jaden Ivey is a Game-Breaking Athlete
It was apparent when Jaden Ivey came into the league that he was going to be fast. But what people didn’t realize was that Jaden Ivey is one of the fastest players in the league right now. His ability to break into the open court with just a step is jaw dropping. If a defender isn’t accounting for Ivey’s speed at every given moment, he’s going to get loose. And there are not many players in the league can catch him. This fast break opportunity off of a turnover against Cleveland at home is a perfect example. His ability to recognize his opening, and how quickly he gets ahead of everyone else, is next level.
Ivey is a smart basketball player
Beyond Jaden Ivey’s athleticism is his high basketball IQ. Ivey has proven through his first 14 games that it’s not just his athleticism that makes him special on the court. It’s what Ivey sees on the court and how he processes information. Not only can Jaden Ivey score at will and get to the basket, but he also can create opportunities for others with his playmaking. Since he is such a threat to score at the rim, defenders collapse at the rim, and that opens up more shots on the perimeter. As Ivey’s career goes on, and as he has better shooters around him, those assist numbers will only go up.
What is even more impressive is that Jaden is able to not only go fast, but change speeds as well. For an athlete that’s as dynamic as Ivey, his effectiveness long term is going to come down to playing at different gears. Sure, the rookie guard is insanely quick, but lots of players in the league are athletic. What can make his speed that much more of a weapon, is when he can slow down as quickly as he speeds up. If he continues to develop his acceleration and deceleration, he’s going to be one of the most unpredictably dynamic weapons in the entire league.
Jaden Ivey’s future is bright, and his support system is elite
If there is any aspect of Jaden Ivey’s development that’s underrated, it’s his deep support system. From the coaching/development staff with the Pistons, and then having his mother happen to be Niele Ivey. Former Detroit Shock turned NCAA Division 1 Head Coach Niele Ivey. The same Niele Ivey who was on the staff in the development years of Ja Morant for the Memphis Grizzlies. In addition, Ivey for a long time has been a supporter/big part of the WNBA family.
And not to mention the ties that he has back at Purdue. Every professional athlete has people who believe in them and access to great coaching. Nobody has it in as many directions, and in his own home, like Jaden Ivey. There’s still a long ways to go for Ivey to be the player he can be. But from the early returns, it’s clear that Jaden Ivey belongs in this league. Not only does he belong, but he has every reason to believe that he can make some noise in the years to come.
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