On today’s episode of the Indy Cornrows podcast, Mark and Caitlin look ahead to the draft, debuting a new recurring series: Stock up, Stock Down. Breaking down a different prospect each week, the idea is for the hosts to watch a player, identifying reasons to be both bearish and bullish, with frame of reference from a few specific games as well as for the Pacers. Then, in zooming out with a broader focus, an invited draft expert reacts to the findings.
Stock up — Recovery skills
Questions about Ivey’s defense are fair. He has a tendency to relax once his man gives up the ball. He can be slow to commit to rotations, and it isn’t uncommon for him to get knocked off the scent, cutting corners and sliding underneath off-ball screens for shooters, as a function of a previous defensive error. That said, while his on-ball screen navigation can also certainly be prone to surrendering excess separation, possessions like this, where his recovery speed allows him to get back into plays, even after weaving around a down-screen connected to a hand-off, demonstrate upside as to his natural tools in spite of what he can at times lack in attention to detail. After all, Max Christie attempted to provide reason for pause, feigning as though he was about to screen along the baseline before wheeling up and around the top of the key, and Ivey still swallowed up all this space, running past the screen for the block.
Following the trade deadline, the Pacers mostly shifted to switching these types of actions with the exception of when Goga Bitadze was on the floor. In that scenario, with Haliburton chasing the ball, the gap in rearview pursuit rarely shrank and would more often expand.
Looking ahead to next season, it remains to be seen how the Pacers will orient the defense once Myles Turner is back in action, but Haliburton’s slender build has more of an impact on the ball when he’s operating away from it — with stunts, digs, and attunement— as opposed to trying to stay in front or make up ground.
Stock down — Handling and dexterity
Ivey is electric in the open floor and also impresses with his speed in the half-court, whether re-accelerating and rapidly changing angles or playing opossum as Victor Oladipo once did; beginning plays with the universal sign of decoy — waiting in the corner, with his hands on his knees — before abruptly exploding around screens and downhill. And yet, while playing in a streamlined, spread NBA offense that doesn’t fetishize complicated screening actions and post-ups has the potential to further augment his athleticism, it bears pointing out that his meteoric burst at times papered over some of his troubles going left at the college level, where he was still able to get back middle or right-hand lefty shots without as much consequence.
According to InStat, Ivey converted just 41.6 percent of his 59 field-goal attempts after driving (not necessarily finishing) with his weak hand, which doesn’t account for the shots he didn’t take. For example, look at what happened on this possession against a solid defender and irritant in A.J. Hoggard, when being turned forced him to gather and pick-up with his left, compounding his lack of mid-range game and iffy pull-up shooting.
Aside from flashes of lightning-quick double-crosses and in-and-out dribbles, that also shows up in spots where the opportunity is there to rip through and attack left, and he, instead, appears unsure, trying to get back to his right, or loses the handle. Plus, even when he doesn’t commit a turnover, of which he recorded 3.3 per 40 minutes, he’ll occasionally probe out of cleared space. In that regard, the presence of big bodies in the lane can at times work in his favor, as the roadblock allows him to reset and alter course into turning the corner with his strong hand. Still, because he typically either attacks at top-gear or downshifts to get his defender on his back, snaking from left to right, he can miss out on lefty pocket passes that require moving in tandem pace with the roll-man, resulting in tough shots against coverage that keeps the two-man game limited to one side of the floor.
All of which is to say that, while his speed may still allow him to jet past hedges and opponents who duck under screens, it’s worth considering how his dexterity — particularly when forced left in late-clock, half-court situations — may limit him, at least when he isn’t putting his defender on skates and stepping back.
Stock up — Shot Creation
Did you forget about this bucket? I somehow forgot about this bucket pic.twitter.com/kJ9S0ASkxG— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) April 29, 2022
This is it. This is sort of the Jaden Ivey sell in one possession.
On a baseline out of bounds play that breaks down, Ivey creates something out of nothing. He showcases the handle, first countering to go to a stepback jumper after he’s mirrored by his defender. Then a violent on balance and well timed spin back to his right into a long strided scoop layup.
There is not a single player on the Indiana Pacers who can consistently do any of these things in conjunction at the moment. His downhill verve along with remarkable slipperiness and ability to shake through and blow open gaps is a significant factor in his draft stock.
His added (and improving) pull-up shooting and versatility off movement from deep opens up his game even further, but the first step (compared to past seasons) along with his vertical pop set the table.
Stock down — Passing Reads & Timing
While Ivey has made major strides as a playmaker, both prior to the season and during it, particularly in the pick and roll, he has a great deal of room for growth in his reads and delivery.
This play above - mid-air adjustment from finish to pass - leads to a pretty ugly TO and was something we saw a lot of from Jaden this year. The process is there, he goes to make the right play, but it’s just late. We talk a lot about predetermined reads/plays and this is quite literally the opposite. He almost plays too fast at times and can cause his own turnovers or smother himself at the rim or as a passer (as seen here).
He started to mix in pacing later in Big Ten play and developing in the intermediary. His passing really has grown! This is not a pass he makes last year with regularity or early in the season.
Rewatching this game and again just can't wait to see Jaden generate paint touches at the next level pic.twitter.com/IGv7izcEmE— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) April 29, 2022
Yet, when talking about a prospect and their potential as a lead guard/primary option, it’s important to note where they are as a passer at the moment.
His gravity can demand the utmost attention and he bends defense like a blacksmith molds iron. How can those reads develop? What level can they get to? How does his ball placement come along? To say Ivey is a raw playmaker is fair, but the upside is incredibly intriguing when factoring in the strides he’s already made.
Less stock down, more “stock hmmm”.
- Why would Haliburton-Ivey be more effective than Fox-Haliburton?
- Does Ivey project as a lead ball-handler or secondary playmaker?
- Which is more valuable: on-ball defense or off-ball defense?
Enjoy the pod and look forward to more of these episodes as the draft approaches. Also, if you haven’t already, please be sure to Rate and Review the Indy Cornrows Podcast on Apple Podcasts and subscribe anywhere else you can listen!