2022 NBA draft is a homecoming for new Piston Jaden Ivey

Detroit News columnist John Niyo says the rookie’s speed and athleticism will pair nicely with Cade Cunningham’s ability to control the game.

Jaden Ivey in March 2022

Detroit Pistons fans are elated with the team’s draft pick, 20-year-old Jaden Ivey. He played guard at Purdue but has roots here in the Motor City. Detroit News columnist John Niyo says the Detroit fanbase should be excited about their new prospect.

“Look, for Pistons fans, I think [the NBA draft] was a pretty cool night for a lot of reasons. The emotion that spilled out of Jaden Ivey, his mom and his family there was genuine, but it was also reflective of what was going on with the Pistons Performance Center down there in Midtown, because they were doing cartwheels as well. They were pretty excited. They had a plan going in, which was sort of at the mercy of other teams and circumstances, and I don’t think anything could’ve worked out better for them than it did that draft.”

And that’s really been the sentiment from around the league, from experts to commentators to fans on Twitter. They say the Detroit Pistons could have one of the best and youngest backcourts in the NBA with Ivey and Cade Cunningham, last year’s No. 1 overall pick.

Niyo says that Ivey’s connections to Detroit make his story intriguing on and off the court.

“His mom played for the Detroit Shock, his dad grew up here, went to Country Day and played football at Notre Dame, his grandfather played for the Detroit Lions, James Hunter, his grandmother owns a clothing store in town, so this is a homecoming for him in a lot of ways.”

“Just to be in Detroit, that’s really home.” — Jaden Ivey

He says that players like Ivey are especially valuable to the Pistons right now.

“Detroit isn’t necessarily the primary destination for free agents in the league, and certainly hasn’t won a lot here in the last decade or so, but when you get guys that are talented and coveted and want to be here, I think that’s an added bonus for an organization.”

And for Ivey, joining the Pistons is a valuable experience as well.

“I’ll probably be not even too far from my grandma, so I could get home-cooked meals. She makes some good food for me, so just to be in Detroit, that’s really home,” Ivey says.

While the feel-good story doesn’t necessarily mean more wins on the court, Niyo says Ivey’s got the goods there too.

“He’s arguably the most explosive athlete in this draft, certainly among the guards in this draft. He’s as fast as you can get, and gets by guys really without effort, it feels like at times. And that’s the sort of explosive element that [the Pistons] have been missing.”

He says that Cunningham’s ability to control the game will pair nicely with Ivey’s speed and athleticism.

“I think they think they’ve got a backcourt now for the next decade that can really be one of the best in the league before too long.”

 

Photo credit: Alexander Jonesi/Wiki Commons


Listen: John Niyo talks NBA draft and what to expect from the Pistons this season.

 

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Author

  • Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. As a longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has covered stories for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.