The Detroit Pistons entered Thursday night with a hole in their backcourt, and exited with one of the most athletic guards in the draft.
The Pistons selected Jaden Ivey with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft. A year after adding a potential star in Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick, the Pistons took a swing and will pair Cunningham with a high-upside off-guard with the tools to become a go-to option.
The Sacramento Kings took Iowa forward Keegan Murray at No. 4, making way for Ivey to come to the Pistons.
Ivey, who has many family ties to Detroit, broke down in tears after commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick, before hugging his mom, Notre Dame women’s basketball head coach and former Detroit Shock guard Niele Ivey.
“This is everything, man,” Ivey said on stage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “I worked day in and day out just to get to this level. I know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her and I’m just so happy.
“I’m going to give it my all every single day,” he continued. I’m going to work my hardest to help my team win and just going to give it my all.”
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Ivey had a breakout sophomore season at Purdue, averaging 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He’s a gifted athlete with perhaps the best first-step in the draft, enabling him to break down defenses and get to the rim with ease. That, along with his explosive vertical, turned him into a nightly highlight reel in college and will give the Pistons a jolt when he’s on the floor.
He was widely projected to go top four, and some analysts considered him to be the highest-upside player in the draft. Per sources, rival teams inquired about Ivey’s availability in a trade even after the pick was in. The Pistons, for now, plan to keep him.
Ivey comes from an athletic family. His grandfather, James Hunter, was a cornerback for the Detroit Lions from 1976-82 and passed away in Allen Park in 2010. Ivey’s father, Javin Hunter, was born and raised in Detroit, attended Detroit Country Day and was a wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers from 2002-06. Ivey’s mom, Niele, played for the Shock in 2005.
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“I’m speechless, almost,” Niele said. “It’s his dream come true, to be in Detroit. We have so many amazing roots in Detroit. For him to walk on that stage, I’m just so joyful and happy for him.”
BACKSTORY:The remarkable story of Purdue’s Jaden Ivey and his mom, Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey
With Ivey in tow, the Pistons now have one of the NBA’s most dynamic young backcourts. He complements Cunningham as an athletic guard who can get downhill with ease, and has a chance to become a fanfavorite thanks to his athletic dunks. Cunningham will be able to take pressure off Ivey as a do-it-all guard who can space the floor.
Ivey is the Pistons’ fifth first-round pick under general manager Troy Weaver, joining Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey.
The Orlando Magic surprised by taking Duke forward Paolo Banchero at No. 1, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren with the second pick and the Houston Rockets grabbed Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. at No. 3.
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