Prospect profile: How would Jaden Ivey fit with Kings?

Breaking down Purdue guard Jaden Ivey

James Ham
June 13, 2022

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This is the fourth installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for the Sacramento Kings with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2022 NBA Draft. 

The 2022 NBA Draft is just 10 days away and it’s time to start getting serious about potential prospects for the Kings at the No. 4 pick.

Sacramento’s leap to No. 4 has them in the mix for a handful of high-end prospects. It also opens all kinds of options for moving up, down or out of the draft. 

We’ve already profiled Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Iowa’s Keegan Murray. Next on the docket is Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, who is scheduled to go anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 in the upcoming draft. 

The Numbers

Stats: 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, .9 steals, 46% FG, 35.8% 3-point, 31.4 min

Age: 20 Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 200 Wingspan: 6-foot-9

Lightning quick and with a big bounce, Ivey has vaulted up draft boards over the last few months. The Purdue star could crack the top three and a worst case scenario is him falling to No. 4, where the Kings currently sit. 

The son of Niele Ivey, the head women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame, Jaden has the skills and mindset to be an All-Star. He is still raw and will need time to develop, but he’s made the 2022 NBA Draft interesting and there’s a possibility he cracks the top three. 

Ivey scored 20 or more points 14 times with a high of 27. He also dropped double-figure scoring in all but three of his 36 games his sophomore season.

Strengths

Every once in a while, you come across a player who has extreme functional athleticism. Ja Morant has this trait. Zach LaVine has this gift. Dwyane Wade had this in spades and so does Ivey. His first step is stunning and once he gets around the corner, he is fearless and ferocious attacking the rim.

Ivey shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range on five attempts per game and there is hope that he can bump that number up substantially. During his first 20 games this season, he knocked down 44.2 percent from deep. In his final 16 games, that number dropped to just 26.2 percent. Did he just miss shots or did opposing defenses make an adjustment?

Off the ball, Ivey is a runner. He is constantly in motion and he knows how to find soft spots in the defense. He needs to find some sort of mid-range game to maximize his potential, even if it’s a floater. He’s way too dynamic of an athlete to be limited to just two levels as a scorer. 

During his sophomore season he averaged 5.8 free throw attempts per game and that could go even higher at the NBA level. He shot just 74.4 percent from the stripe and there is clearly room for improvement as a shooter overall.

As a passer, Ivey is more nuts and bolts than a true set up man. He played off the ball a lot in Purdue’s offense and had to work with both a point guard and a passing big in Trevion Williams. His usage rate of 28.7 percent is a little high, but there is a chance that he can develop into a ball dominant star guard in the mold of Donovan Mitchell. 

On the defensive side of the ball, there are some issues. But since we are focusing on his strengths in this section, there are some things to highlight. 

Ivey blocked 20 shots in 36 games and some of them are spectacular. He likes the chasedown block, like De’Aaron Fox. He also uses his length and quickness to surprise his cover. His blocks and steals are very similar and at times, you are confused how he didn’t post higher totals. 

He plays passing lanes well and has good instincts. He gambles a bit on steals, which leads to some fun transition moments. He also gets plenty of deflections and there’s a possibility that he can develop as a defender in the right situation. 

Weaknesses

Ivey isn’t a three level scorer and that’s a problem. He has to refine his shot and his ball handling needs improvement as well. He should add a floater and his mid-range game was completely non-existent at Purdue.

He can get anywhere on the court due to his initial burst, but to date, he is relying almost exclusively on his athleticism. NBA defenders will be able to limit him as a scorer if he doesn’t take major strides in his ability to create space. Improving his handles and his 3-point shot will help in this area.

While his shot is repeatable, everything from his footwork to his release is slightly slow and mechanical. He’ll need to smooth out his approach on the perimeter if he hopes to take major strides as a perimeter shooter.

As a passer, he needs to continue to improve. He posted a 3.1-to-2.6 assist-to-turnover rate, although he did have to play with a few additional high usage players that impacted his overall passing opportunities. He is often out of control and leaves his feet when making passes. This works in the NCAA, but he'll need to limit jump passes at the next level. 

On the defensive end, Ivey is a work in progress and that might be saying it nicely. His estimated wingspan, mixed with his athleticism and NBA ready body should translate to at least a league average defender with potential for more, but that’s not how he performed at the college level. 

Ivey ranked in the 28th percentile of college players overall in points per possession and his pick-and-roll defense is just a complete mess. He allowed the pick-and-roll ball handler to score 1.01 points per possession which ranked all the way down in the 9th percentile.

He is okay in isolation, but he gets caught on the screen almost every time. He doesn’t have a great feel for when he should go over or under a screen and many times, he just gets engulfed by the screener and taken completely out of the play.

Again, he has the physical tools to be solid on this end, but a pairing with someone like Fox, who has some of these same issues, could prove disastrous. 

Fit with Kings

This is where things get dicey. Having two guards who can get out and run in the open court and finish at the rim could work well, but neither Fox nor Ivey are great shooters or defenders. There is room for both to grow in these areas, but the natural fit isn’t great.

Ivey spent plenty of time playing off the ball and he also played with a pair of big men at Purdue that could help his transition to the next level. He knows how to cut and his ability to play with reckless abandon would make him an instant fan favorite and a huge target for Sabonis. 

The Kings aren’t a team that can pass on a player with a limitless ceiling like Ivey, regardless of fit. If he makes it to No. 4, they should make the pick and not look back. Maybe the backcourt with Fox works and maybe it doesn’t, but that will take two or three years to figure out and by that time, Ivey could be special.

He can improve on the defensive end. He can become an elite scoring option. He can be a star. 

Player Comparison

High end: Steve Francis, Donovan Mitchell, Zach LaVine

Low end: Dennis Smith and Dion Waiters without attitude issues

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