Orlando Magic 2022 NBA Draft Preview: Jaden Ivey should get consideration for top pick

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - JANUARY 20: Jaden Ivey #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers dribbles the ball while against the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on January 20, 2022 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - JANUARY 20: Jaden Ivey #23 of the Purdue Boilermakers dribbles the ball while against the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on January 20, 2022 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

On Draft Lottery night, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith, Jr. all stood together to give an interview with San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson.

It seemed like a foregone conclusion they were the top three players in the draft and since that night when the Magic secured the top overall pick, those are the only names that have been mentioned.

They towered alongside Robinson just as they seem to tower over this draft. But this has quickly become a guard’s league. The dynamic and athletic guards who control the ball and pace of the game are vital to success. They remain the biggest thing this Magic franchise has missed for nearly two decades now.

With that in mind then, dynamic Purdue guard Jaden Ivey deserves to be considered for that top pick.

The push for the top pick in the NBA Draft seems to be a simple one between three forwards. But in a guard’s league the Orlando Magic should consider Jaden Ivey for the top pick too.

Ivey’s game jumps off the screen as he dunks on opposing defenders, swat opponents shots into the 12th row and finishes through contact better than anyone else in the draft.

He averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a sophomore for the Boilermakers last year. And he scored in double figures in 33 out of 36 games and scored at least 20 points in 14 of those games.

Ivey also led Purdue to a 3-seed and a Sweet Sixteen run until they were upset by Saint Peters’ Cinderella squad.

Ivey stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pounds. He has a 6-foot-9 wingspan. That size gives him combo-guard versatility and also helps on the defensive end of the floor.

From his freshman to sophomore season, Ivey also showed a lot of improvement. A good sign for a player who returned to school and generated NBA buzz with his breakout sophomore year.

In 2021, he was a role player with scoring upside who struggled with his outside shot. But last year, he blossomed into a superstar becoming the go-to guy for Purdue.

Ivey improved his three-point shooting by 10 percentage points compared to his freshman year, climbing from 25.8-percent to 35.8-percent. He did this while still taking about 5.0 threes per game. His usage rate climbed to 28.7-percent. He was the driving force for Purdue and was the driving force for a lot of their success.

Catch-and-shoot is where he really shines from beyond the arc showing his combo guard ability by being able to play off the ball.

He also improved his overall percentage from the field by 6.1 percentage points.

Ivey flourishes driving into the lane to make plays which has drawn some comparisons to other slashing guards in the NBA such as Ja Morant, Victor Oladipo, Anthony Edwards and Donovan Mitchell.

That is because he plays such an explosive style of basketball at all times of the game and is very efficient in the painted area.

He finished 68.1-percent of his attempts at the rim and in the half-court offense setting. Ivey shot an impressive 58.8-percent on shots at the basket (70 of119 attempts).

He averages 1.1 points per possession in transition which was among other top college guards. And his dunk highlights are quite impressive.

Ivey is very talented at finishing at the rim and uses that ability to draw fouls and get to the line for easy points.

Last season, he shot a respectable 74.4-percent from the line and took 207 total free throws last year which was third most in the Big Ten. Ivey had seven games with 9-plus free throw attempts and averaged 5.8 free throw attempts per game. He shot 18 free throws against Rutgers (making 15 of them) and shot 15 against Illinois.

He also had a 30-percent and-1 rate (making 30-percent of shots while fouled in the act of shooting) which is highest among top prospects in the draft.

That shows how much pressure Ivey puts on defenses. That is a thing the Magic desperately need. It is still the theoretical underpinning of Markelle Fultz’s success even without a consistent jumper.

Ivey is not just a slasher, he’s also a special playmaker especially in the pick and roll.

He averages 0.92 points per possession on pick and roll plays and shot 45.9-percent (56 of 122 attempts). This is an area where he showed potential but still an area he needs improvement.

That is a big thing with Ivey. Offensively, there are flashes of how dynamic he can be. There are plenty of hints of how he can take over games. But there are also plenty of warnings too. The inefficiencies and some of the inconsistencies are giving scouts pause.

Still that dynamic offensive burst is what teams want to see from a player like Ivey. And that is why he is in the running to be one of the top picks in this draft.

Ivey was also a dynamic defender in college. He had multiple flashy chase down blocks last year and only committed 1.8 fouls per game last year.

Sometimes he can take risks that do not work out. But when he makes a big play defensively it energizes him and his other teammates.

Overall, his consistency on that end will determine how impactful he can be, but he has the size and strength to bully smaller guards and to hold his own against bigger wing players.

What Ivey has put on tape is all well and good, but being the first overall pick for the Magic is another thing.

Part of the reason why Banchero, Holmgren and Smith are ahead of the pack in mock drafts is because the Magic hold that number one selection.

Over the last couple years they have selected guards with two of their last three first round picks. They just signed Fultz to a three-year extension. He will have his second year under that contract next year.

So it is understandable for there to be some caution about clogging the development of the backcourt if they were to select Ivey.

And it makes even more sense when you look back at Orlando’s recent draft history.

They clogged the front court by drafting Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac while already having Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. With Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and Markelle Fultz all showing potential, conventional wisdom says to go with one of the front court players.

But the Magic are still looking for that number one player who can be the go-to guy for their franchise to build around.

Maybe that is Franz Wagner or maybe it is not. But when you look at the players available this year, there is not a clear cut number one. So eliminating a player because he plays a certain position from the draft board seems silly.

When that player is drawing comparisons to Ja Morant it seems sillier. And return on investment is not guaranteed for the players already on the roster, so keeping Ivey in consideration is the right move.

Ivey is also more of a 2-guard with his size, so if the Magic were to draft him then it is not like they would have to move on from their other young guns.

Now Ivey is not a perfect player by any stretch of the imagination. He has some areas of his game he will need to work on so he can flourish at the next level.

There are concerns abut his outside shooting despite his improvement from his freshman season.

Most of Ivey’s progression came beyond the 3-point line. In his sophomore year, he still struggled from midrange.

He shot just 20.5-percent (8 of 39 attempts) on short and midrange jumpers. Ivey also struggled off the dribble, shooting only 29.7-percent (30 of 101 attempts).

He can play out of control at times and that showed in the turnover column where he averaged 2.6 giveaways per game.

There is a world where Ivey initially struggles to find his shooting stroke in the NBA but considering how fast he improved in college it should not be a problem for too long.

Ivey has the potential to lead a franchise and become their best player. That is the type of ceiling he possesses. And that is the type of player the Magic are looking for.

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Even though he is not getting any buzz to be the top selection, he is a worthy candidate and the Magic would regret not considering him.