The NBA season is still young, but many rookies from the 2022 draft are already making significant impacts on their teams. For the Detroit Pistons, Jaden Ivey has been better than advertised.
Through 12 games, Ivey is Detroit’s fourth-leading scorer with 15.4 points per game. He consistently flashes good court vision and playmaking skills, averaging 3.8 assists per game. He rebounds well for a 6-foot-4 guard, averaging 5.4 rebounds per game.
Ivey complements his backcourt partner Cade Cunningham. While Cunningham is more surgical with his style of play, Ivey pushes the pace. At times, the 20-year-old is quickly derailed because he has no plan on how he will attack the basket. Other times, he makes highlight reel-type finishes around the rim or strong kick-out passes to open shooters.
Ivey still has a ways to go in development. The Purdue product is a streaky shooter. Ivey shoots 32 percent from beyond the arc, but he is shooting 26.7 percent in his last five games. He has his fair share of avoidable turnovers and averages 2.2 turnovers per game. Then there is his defense. It is not for lack of effort. Ivey certainly has his moments on defense, but he is not a good defender at this point in his career. That is okay. Rookies typically take time to develop defensively.
Ivey has made his mark for this Pistons team. On the national stage, his performances have not gone unnoticed. Ivey ranks third in NBA.com’s most recent rookie ladder. Jaden Ivey may not be the frontrunner for NBA Rookie of the Year honors, but the 20-year-old is certainly making his case to be a serious contender in the race.
Where Jaden Ivey’s stats rank among the rest of the NBA’s rookies
Ivey’s 15.4 points per game ranks third among the NBA’s rookies this season. Only Paolo Banchero (23.5) and Bennedict Mathurin (20.4) average more points.
Ivey’s 5.4 rebounds per game ranks fourth. He is the only guard ranked in the top five. Banchero, (8.3), Pistons’ teammate Jalen Duren (6.8) and Jabari Smith Jr., (6.0) rank ahead of Ivey.
Ivey leads all rookies in both assists and steals. In minutes per game, only Banchero, 34.7, and Keegan Murray, 32.2, rank higher than Ivey, 31.7.
Ivey is in the race for Rookie of the Year
It comes as no surprise that the first overall pick in the 2022 draft is the current favorite to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Banchero’s performances this season have been a tier above the rest of the NBA’s rookies.
The Orlando Magic have asked Banchero to shoulder much of the offensive load for the team. The Duke product is the team’s leading scorer, one of its leading rebounders, and a secondary playmaker. While there is a lot on Banchero’s plate, the rookie has performed well so far this season.
Both the numbers and the eye test clearly put Banchero at the front of the pack for Rookie of the Year. The 19-year-old consistently makes highlight-reel plays when he is on the court. Banchero currently ranks at the top spot of NBA.com’s rookie ladder. If he is able to continue playing at this level throughout the 2022-23 season, Banchero is going to run away with Rookie of the Year honors.
However, he is not without his challengers.
Mathurin is second on the rookie ladder for NBA.com. The University of Arizona product is the second option for the Indiana Pacers, and he has played extremely well so far this season. The 20-year-old wing can score quickly and efficiently. On more than one occasion, Mathurin has scored in large numbers in very few minutes.
If anyone is going to push Banchero for Rookie of the Year, it will be Mathurin. He is shooting 46 percent from the floor and 43.7 percent from beyond the arc. If he can continue to score efficiently at high volume, there is a chance he overtakes Banchero before the season’s end.
Jaden Ivey has an uphill climb to overtake Paolo Banchero and Bennedict Mathurin
Unlike Banchero and Mathurin, Ivey does not have the luxury of being the first or second option on his team. He is the third or fourth option, depending on the night. Ivey’s role on the Pistons provides fewer opportunities than the Banchero and Mathurin.
It would take a significant increase in usage and production for Ivey to overtake both Mathurin and Banchero for Rookie of the Year. However, with Cunningham, Bojan Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey leading the way for the Pistons, Ivey is unlikely to see his role increase that much.
It is not unthinkable for Ivey to make a push for the award. At this time in the 2021-22 season, Evan Mobley was the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Then, Scottie Barnes swooped in and won it at the end of the season. The same could happen this season, but it is more likely that Mathurin is the one to make a late surge for the award.
If Ivey continues to play at the level he will become a Rookie of the Year finalist. Will he be able to win it outright? No, not with Banchero and Mathurin playing the way they are. However, the NBA season is long, and situations change. It is not impossible for Ivey to be the one to make a push late in the season for Rookie of the Year. Whether he wins it or not, Jaden Ivey has already established himself as one of the league’s more promising young talents.
(Featured Image Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)