Jaden Ivey was impressive enough in his sophomore season at Purdue that myriad draft writeups questioned whether he deserved the No. 1 spot. He ended as the 5th to Detroit, which was perfect, not only because his family has a history there, but it’s also pretty easy to compare his game to one of Detroit’s finest: the Dodge Viper. His performance is highlighted by explosive speed; his game can be a lot to handle and, if steered with a lack of direction, a harsh spin out is possible.
So far, Ivey shareholders are feeling pretty good. In four games he’s averaging 16 points, 5.5 ast., 4.3 boards and 1.5 steals in 31 minutes of play while shooting 43% from deep.
However, I’m pumping the breaks on Ivey and holding up the caution sign.
First, I should disclose that I tend to not trust rookies in fantasy. It’s rare for a rook to exceed expectations. More often than not, you’re just hoping to get equal value back. I usually draft for upside or be pretty dang sure I’m not ending up with whatever happened to Jalen Suggs last year. In the last 10 years, only four rookies have finished in the Top 40 in standard scoring …
… Ok I totally made that stat up because I’m too busy at the moment to put the research in. (Hey, Son, when do I get an intern?) But, that guess has to be in the ballpark (Son here. I looked at the data a year ago and posted this).
Ivey will work through the standard first year ups and downs. At times he shows elite vision and acrobatic passing displays, and other times has tunnel vision or leaps into the air without any plan. I expect him to lead the rookie class in both assists and turnovers while also providing a nice amount of steals.
Ivey’s draft stock revved up because he increased his 3-point shooting from 26% to 36% from year 1 to 2 at Purdue. However, much of those gains were from the early season. In his last 15 college games — including tournament time — he shot 22 of 78 (28%) from 3. He also has no mid-range game. Of 50 field-goal attempts in his first four games, Ivey has four shots between 10 feet out and the 3-point line, and made as many as the 17 of you reading this – zero. A lack of a mid-range jumper is common with young lottery picks and certainly can be developed, but it’s just another asterisk to consider when evaluating for dynasty leagues – along with the fact he has not been a very good free-throw shooter up to this point.
Russel Westbrook proved that an athlete can be an average-at-best shooter and still motor their way to the top of the hill, but it’s more the exception than the rule. Ivey will need to keep his shooting prowess up to keep defenders from sagging back and cutting him off in the lane. Watch those percentages as he develops. It’ll be the difference between this muscle car becoming a classic (Morant) or having the shine wear off quickly (Dennis Smith Jr.).
Here’s some other rookie notes from the first week of play:
Keegan Murray, Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith Jr. have all met pretty lofty expectations to start the season. I’ll be writing plenty about them in the next five months, so have purposely kind of ignored ‘em thus far. But so far so good; with Banchero looking like he could be one of those magical unicorn rookies who finish in the Top 40.
I may have brushed off Shaedon Sharpe too easily in the preseason. I thought he appeared totally lost on the floor. It turns out he just has RSF (Resting Stoner Face). He’s getting about 15 minutes of run off the bench for the Blazers and has earned a solid spot in the rotation, albeit without enough minutes to be usable in standard leagues. However, I’ll be nabbing him off the wire in daily leagues the first time either Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons or Josh Hart sit out.
After a pretty impressive debut, Jalen Duren has looked kinda meh. But he’s getting 20 minutes of run and for all the chatter about Walker Kessler, Utah Ranger, Duren’s stats are right on par. The pending return of Marvin Bagley III mid-Novemeber may affect those minutes.
Christian Koloko had a big week: His first NBA fight and fine followed by his first start, part of the first Cameroon-born duo to start for a team. He’s put up 7 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks while averaging 16 minutes. … What’s that? Oh, those aren’t per game averages, those are his total stats in 65 minutes of play? … Well, Nick Nurse seems to love him, even if fantasy players have no reason to.
Dyson Daniels got his first run Tuesday night with three starting Pelicans mending their wings, and the early returns were promising, finishing with 11 points (4-5, 1-1 from 3) 3 rebounds, 2 dimes and 3 steals in 22 minutes. Most importantly, he made Luka look-a like-a fool a couple times while defending him … and, they beat the Mavs.
The only explanation for Tari Eason getting only 18 minutes per game is that he’s too good and Stephen Silas has been directed to not allow all that hustle and efficiency to spread throughout the roster and screw up a perfectly good tankathon. Eason’s per 36 after four games are 18-12.5-1-2-2 – yet, he remains atop most waiver wires, daring you to call Silas a bluffer.
Speaking of Per 36s, JAYLIN Williams of the not-so-OK-c Thunder had his first cup of regular season coffee Sunday, and check out these Per 36 stats: 18 points, 27 boards and 9 assists. Ok, sure, eight minutes of mostly garbage time may not be the greatest of sample sizes, but I’ve started researching for an article on which 2022 second rounder has the most promising career ahead of him (really need that intern!), and I suspect JayWill willwill be in the convo.