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The Detroit Pistons are orienting their future around Cade Cunningham, but that may not stop them from selecting another guard in the 2022 NBA draft.
The Athletic’s David Aldridge spoke with an executive from the Eastern Conference who said Detroit “loves Ivey.”
Aldridge quoted a college assistant whose team faced off against Ivey and Purdue, and the coach drew a parallel between the 6’4″ guard and Russell Westbrook:
“If people could lose what they’ve seen from Russell Westbrook, and how they feel about Westbrook, Ivey is very similar. He’s downhill, he’s tough to guard. Against us, he beat us from the free-throw line. He got downhill . He can create a lot of fouls just because of his athleticism. I think he’s got a lot of work to do as a point guard. But I think his upside is really good, and from what I hear, he works his tail off. “
Despite finishing with the NBA’s third-worst record (23-59), the Pistons fell two spots to the No. 5 pick in the lottery. That still leaves Detroit poised to land a player who can join Cunningham in shaping the franchise’s future.
Ivey would fit nicely alongside Cunningham as well.
In his sophomore season with the Boilermakers, he averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He also shot 46.0 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc.
While he’s bound to improve as a playmaker to some degree, Ivey doesn’t profile as a guard who can be the lead facilitator for his team.
Detroit wouldn’t have to worry about that as much since Cunningham is already occupying that role. The Pistons rookie dished out 5.6 assists per game, and his presence would allow Ivey to play to his biggest strengths.
Ivey’s availability might be a clear hurdle for Detroit general manager Troy Weaver.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman reported May 31 the Oklahoma City Thunder could target Ivey at No. 2 even though they already have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.
Wasserman also projected Ivey to go No. 4 to the Sacramento Kings, who figure to be a much better fit as they look to find a replacement for Tyrese Haliburton.
Weaver and the front office will obviously cast a wide net as they identify their preferred prospects in the first round. Among the realistic scenarios, having Ivey fall to them would probably be the best outcome for the Pistons, but it’s one that may not be all that likely.