While the top of this draft seems to be dominated by three interesting forwards/big men the top guard prospect could also prove to be a future star in the NBA. Jaden Ivey spent two years with the Purdue Boilermakers but quickly established himself as the top guard prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft in his sophomore season. His electric playstyle could be exactly what a top NBA Lottery team needs to kickstart their franchise.
Jaden Ivey becomes just the second Purdue underclassmen (FR or SO) to be named first-team All-American in the last 90 years.
?: 1st team (@NABC1927) pic.twitter.com/DSV12DMX3t
— Purdue Mens Basketball (@BoilerBall) March 16, 2022
The immediate skill that has to be highlighted with Jaden Ivey is his ability to score on a basketball court. While at Purdue, the sophomore was a menace on the court with the ball in his hands. Ivey is a more than a competent three-level scoring guard that shoots well from beyond the arc and can finish through contact at the rim. Despite taking a large amount of field goal attempts all over the court, Ivey proved to be efficient when scoring at Purdue as a sophomore. His first step is lethal and even some of the best defenders in the Big Ten could not handle him at his best. Ivey also showcased the ability to shoot and slash off the ball as well.
As a sophomore with Purdue, he averaged 17.3 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from the three-point line. When he is not able to score on a particular play he showcased the ability to dish the ball to his teammates. He averaged 3.1 assists per game in his second year at Purdue. With his explosive ability around the rim, his shooting ability, and his vision when passing Ivey looks like the most competent guard on offense in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Size and Athleticism
Jaden Ivey is a big guard and with that comes matchup problems for other NBA teams. He is listed at 6’4″ and around 200 pounds. While he did not have his wingspan measured at the 2022 NBA Combine he is believed to have a wingspan between 6’7″ and 6’9″. Pairing this with his skills enhances his ability on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Ivey is also a very athletic guard on both sides of the ball. His first step is one of his best assets on the offensive end and if the defender is not prepared they will quickly find themselves on the wrong end of a highlight reel slam from Ivey. Guarding and being guarded by the former Purdue guard is a tiring event.
Jaden Ivey with the HAMMER ? and his mom loves it!! #MarchMadness
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) March 21, 2022
While at Purdue Jaden Ivey was a nightmare to score against when defending an opposing guard on the ball. He also showcased his ability to guard off the ball when asked to do so on the court. At an NBA level, he should be able to guard point guards, shooting guards, and even some of the small forwards in the league. This year at Purdue he averaged 0.9 steals, but just preventing a score is more than adequate on the court. With his size, speed, and athleticism he can play defense anywhere on the perimeter and can also break up fast break attempts by the other team. Ivey has also proved to be a more than capable rebounding guard and in his second year at Purdue, he averaged 4.9 rebounds per game. His defense helps separate him from the other guards in the 2022 NBA Draft when also factoring in his other skills.
Some of the things that make Jaden Ivey a great prospect could also hinder him at the next level. On both sides of the ball, he has a tendency to gamble and it can lead to bad outcomes, especially in the NBA where the skill level will be higher. A glaring issue in his second year with the Boilermakers was that he averaged a concerning 2.6 turnovers per game (to just 3.1 assists per game). Overall he’s not a natural at passing the ball and may not be a great facilitator at the next level. While he looks like and plays lead guard this would lead to him being more of a wing scorer instead of being a lead guard in the NBA. These are areas he can clean up, but it could hinder what he’s able to do to start his career. Overall the NBA team that drafts him will need to help him progress as a point guard and allow him to clean up some of these issues.
NBA Comparison: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook showcases exactly how effective big and athletic point guards can be in the NBA. While his jump shot never did manage to develop to where it needed to be, Jaden Ivey shouldn’t have that problem. If the Purdue guard can work on his lead guard abilities he could end up having a Westbrook-like impact on an NBA team. The triple-double season may not be realistic, but his ability to score, rebound and make good decisions will help him stuff the stat sheet night in and night out. Ivey played his way into the top guard prospect spot in the 2022 NBA Draft and a quick look over his highlights should tell anyone why. There is a major question on which player will be drafted 4th overall after the big three are gone and Ivey will certainly be a top contender for that selection on draft night.