It’s not only what a player can do that determines his chances of the winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Which team drafts him, and how badly that team needs immediate production from him, also plays a significant role.
Jaden Ivey has the ability. He delivered plenty of highlight moments during his career at Purdue University, draining 3-pointers and captivating the Boilermakers fanbase with his acrobatic drives to the basket.
Those feats led to the Pistons selecting him with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. His skill set — and Detroit’s lack of other standout players — have him in the early conversation as a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.
All of Michigan’s mobile sportsbooks rank Ivey among the top five contenders for ROY. The odds range from +500 at DraftKings to +800 at FanDuel for Ivey to win the award given to the top first-year player in the league.
Other sportsbooks place Ivey in between those two extremes. PointsBet has odds of +600, BetMGM posts odds of +650, and BetRivers lists a price of +700 on the player that averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists during his final year at Purdue.
The sportsbooks all have Orlando Magic No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero as the frontrunner to win Rookie of the Year honors. DraftKings offers +320 on Banchero, FanDuel has slightly higher odds of +330, and PointsBet, BetRivers, and BetMGM all have odds of +350 on the former Duke standout taking the top rookie prize.
Promising Pistons pairing
At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Ivey is a sleek playmaker, capable of playing either guard position. He fits in with the Pistons as a point guard and appears to be a complementary backcourt mate for second-year pro Cade Cunningham.
The Pistons drafted Cunningham with the No. 1 overall pick in 2021. He performed well as a rookie, averaging 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists in 64 games. He was projected as a Rookie of the Year candidate a year ago, too, and ended up third in the final voting behind Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes and Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley.
If there’s anyone already in the league to whom Ivey is drawing comparisons, it’s high-flying Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, who won the Rookie of the Year award for the 2019-20 season. Like Morant, Ivey has the ability to change the momentum of a game with one crowd-pleasing play — usually, a breakaway slam dunk.
Also like Morant, who was selected by Memphis with the No. 2 overall pick in 2019, Ivey was drafted by a team that was considered a work in progress at the time of his selection. Detroit has not really been competitive since finishing the 2018-19 regular season with a 41-41 record. That team lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in a first-round playoff matchup. The last time the Pistons actually won a playoff series? That was at the end of the 2007-08 campaign.
The Pistons finished last season at 23-59 under head coach Dwane Casey, which landed them in 14th place among 15 teams in the NBA Eastern Conference. At times, though, they showed glimpses of progress, even though their win total improved by only three games from the previous season.
Historically speaking, the Pistons’ NBA championship teams (1989, 1990, 2004) were anchored by a strong starting backcourt. Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars grew together in the backcourt and became a formidable duo that led Detroit to back-to-back titles under coach Chuck Daly. The Pistons relied on Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups to lead the way to their most recent championship, under coach Larry Brown.
Ivey joining Cunningham in Detroit’s backcourt could represent the beginning of something similar. However, that will require some time to see if that’s actually the case.
In the meantime, the Pistons fanbase will find out over the course of the upcoming season if the 2022 NBA Draft’s fifth pick can deliver on his mid-range value as a Rookie of the Year contender.
Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY