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NBA Draft Profile: Jaden Ivey

Lotto-bound guard Jaden Ivey dazzled during his second year at Purdue.

Big Ten Tournament - Semifinals - Michigan State v Purdue Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

The Trail Blazers’ forgettable 2021-22 season is in the books and it is time to turn our attention to the 2022 NBA Draft. Unlike recent years, Portland possess multiple picks in this year’s process. After finishing the regular season with a 27-55 record, the Blazers enter the lottery draw with the sixth-best odds in the NBA. Buoyed by those odds, the Blazers are poised to exit the draft with the rights to a marquee prospect.

Today’s profile features dynamic Purdue guard Jaden Ivey. During his second year with the Boilermakers, Ivey established himself as one of the most explosive players in the country.

Jaden Ivey

  • Height: 6’4”
  • WT: 200
  • Wingspan: 6’10”
  • Shooting Hand: Right
  • Position: G
  • Age: 20
  • Projected draft range: 4-6

2021-22 Statistics

  • PTS: 17.3 | Per 40: 22.0
  • AST: 3.1 | Per 40: 3.9
  • REB: 4.9 | Per 40: 6.2
  • STL: 0.9 | Per 40: 1.2
  • FG%: 46.0
  • 3P%: 35.8
  • FT%: 74.4

Strengths

Ivey possesses the best first step of any player in the entire 2022 draft class. Utilizing his elite athleticism, Ivey is a constant threat to blow by opponents in both half-court and transition opportunities. He displays superb body control when slicing through the lane en route to the basket. Once Ivey is at the rim, the fireworks begin. He is comfortable leaping off of either leg and playing through contact.

From an efficiency standpoint, Ivey finished 68.1 percent of his attempts at the rim (stats provided by CBB Analytics). For reference, Ja Morant converted 62 percent of his shots at the rim during his final season at Murray State. Ivey’s exploits in transition clearly boost his numbers, but it is possible that he is set to enjoy even more space in the NBA. According to KenPom, Purdue’s often-methodical offense earned an adjusted tempo rating that ranked No. 237 in the country last season.

Outside of the paint, Ivey is an improving three-point shooter. In his second season at Purdue, his three-point percentage improved from 25.8 percent to 35.8 percent. When he isn’t creating for himself off the dribble, Ivey keeps defenses off balance with multiple off-ball movements.

Defensively, Ivey’s frame and athleticism allow him to guard multiple positions. He isn’t afraid to mix it up in the post. Ivey was comfortable executing highlight-worthy blocks and corralling rebounds when surrounded by larger players.

Weaknesses

Ivey’s dominant inside game is offset by his still-developing outside shooting. His three-point shot is far from proven, and he went ice cold from distance during several stretches last season. As a lead guard, Ivey has limitations when operating outside of drive-and-kick and pick-and-roll situations. He averaged 3.1 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game last season. TyTy Washington, who is considered the best true point guard in the 2022 draft class, produced 3.9 assists and 1.6 turnovers per game.

Defensively, Ivey must do a better job staying engaged when he is working off the ball. It wasn’t uncommon for Ivey to lose his defensive assignment when he wasn’t at the point of attack. At the next level, Ivey’s quickness will be less of an advantage. He must continue to make strides with his off-ball awareness, footwork, and positioning.

2021-22 Season

Ivey was a centerpiece in Purdue’s efficient offense last season. Buoyed by his scoring, the Boilermakers finished with a 29-8 record. In postseason play, Purdue advanced to the Big Ten Championship, where they eventually lost to Keegan Murray’s Iowa squad. In the NCAA Tournament, Ivey recorded a combined 40 points in Purdue’s first two victories. The Boilermakers were bounced from the tournament in the Sweet 16 by a cinderella Saint Peter’s squad.

Individually, Ivey’s development on offense led to a spot on the All-Big Ten Fist Team. Nationally, he finished as a Second-Team Consensus All-American.

Overall Assessment

Of all the prospects in this class, Ivey might have the most impressive highlight reel. He possesses an extra gear that is extremely rare, even at the NBA level. Ivey’s ability to move downhill and play through contact is truly special. While he might not fit inside the lead guard archetype, he has the frame to hold his own against shooting guards at the next level.

Ivey’s three-point shooting is going to come under the microscope in the lead up to the draft. Concerns from NBA talent evaluators could be mitigated by Ivey’s similarities to current Jazz star Donovan Mitchell. Ivey and Mitchell share a similar frame and nearly-identical college shooting numbers. Through five seasons in the NBA, Mitchell has connected on a serviceable 36.1 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Barring a surprise, Ivey will be the first guard selected on draft night. His mix of athleticism and upside has the potential to change the trajectory of the franchise that selects him. Ivey’s on-court demeanor and output has true star potential.

College 3-Point Comparison

Player Freshman 3P% Sophomore 3P% Soph. 3P% vs. KenPom's Tier A
Player Freshman 3P% Sophomore 3P% Soph. 3P% vs. KenPom's Tier A
Donovan Mitchell 25.0 35.4 33.3
Jaden Ivey 25.8 35.8 32.9
Stats via KenPom

Overall Fit

This is where it gets tricky. Ivey’s fit with the Blazers is not clear cut at first glance. The Blazers project three talented guards in their rotation next season, with Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Josh Hart are all set to play significant roles. Is there room for a fourth guard? That is the question.

The biggest counter-argument is tied to the concept of drafting the best player available. If the Blazers land outside of the top three selections and Ivey is still on the board, it will be tough to pass on him. Adding the most value possible at your draft slot is crucial for future roster construction. Building a trade package or a backcourt for the future, Ivey will be an intriguing option for Portland.