Cade Cunningham has a new backcourt partner. With the fifth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons selected Jaden Ivey.
The 6-4 guard is the most explosive player in this year’s draft class. Ivey drives to the basket with ease and has good touch around the rim. He is special with the ball in his hands. Ivey’s handle can improve, but it is good enough to thread through traffic on drives. Paired with Cunningham, the duo could develop into a lethal one-two punch on the offensive end.
Ivey has steadily improved as a shooter in his two seasons with Purdue. This past season, he shot 35.8 percent on five attempts from beyond the arc per game. He still struggles with consistency, but his mechanics are solid. Continuing to improve as a shooter will be a point of emphasis early on in his career with the Pistons.
Ivey leaves something to be desired in his mid-range game and his off-ball offense. Besides shooting, these are areas in need of improvement as he develops in the coming years.
Defensively, he can be a plus-defender when he is locked in. When he forces a turnover and runs in transition, he is a spectacle to watch.
The 20-year-old gives Detroit the secondary ball-handler they have been searching for to pair with Cunningham. Ivey has a lot of room to grow as a playmaker, but he consistently makes the simple reads and is a solid kick-out passer off drives. He can take some of the ball-handling load off Cunningham’s shoulders, giving Cunningham an opportunity to play off-ball as well.
Detroit acquires Jalen Duren via trade
Detroit’s draft did not stop with Ivey. Weaver and the front office landed Memphis big man Jalen Duren and point guard Kemba Walker in a three-team trade with the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks. In return, Detroit sent the Knicks the 2025 first-round pick they acquired from trading Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers. New York sent Charlotte a conditional first-rounder and a collection of second-rounders.
Duren adds depth to Detroit’s center rotation. Isaiah Stewart is likely to retain the starting sport, but Duren will compete with Kelly Olynyk for backup minutes.
The 18-year-old big man projects to be a solid rim protector and pick-and-roll partner for Cunningham.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Pistons and Walker are expected to reach a contract buyout allowing the former All-Star to find a new home in free agency. It comes as no surprise as Detroit still has Killian Hayes and Cory Joseph in their guard rotation.
Pistons land Gabriele Procida in the second round
With the 36th pick acquired from the Portland trade, the Pistons selected Gavrele Procida a guard from Italy. It is likely the 20-year-old is a draft-and-stash player. With more seasoning, while playing overseas, perhaps Procida could be a solid contributor for Detroit in the future.
The Pistons have money to spend in free agency
After trading Grant to the Trail Blazers, it appeared the team was interested in Iowa forward Keegan Murray. Whether that was the case or not, we may never truly know. The Sacramento Kings selected Murray one pick prior to Ivey. Ultimately, Detroit landed with the 20-year-old Purdue product with Detroit ties.
With Grant’s money off the books, the Pistons’ front office has plenty of cap space to make some offers in free agency even after taking on Duren and Walker’s contract.
Reports indicate the team is expected to heavily pursue Phoenix Suns’ big man Deandre Ayton. Phoenix can match any contract offer that comes the restricted free agent’s way. It would take nothing short of the max to pry Ayton away from his team. The Suns are looking to pull off a sign-and-trade for Ayton, and Detroit could easily position themselves as the front runners. Of course, the addition of Duren could change those plans.
Miles Bridges is another restricted free agent to monitor. The Flint native had a breakout season with the Hornets this year. Bridges could be the replacement for Grant in the starting power forward slot should the Pistons acquire him. Like Ayton, Bridges is likely to command a lucrative contract this free agency period. However, with Gordan Hayward’s money still on the book, Charlotte will have a hard time affording the Michigan State product.
If free agency does not prove beneficial for the Pistons, Weaver can use his team’s cap space to acquire talent via the trade market. With Ivey and Duren joining the roster, Detroit’s priority is finding a forward to fill in the vacancy left behind by Grant.
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