A month is not a season and a season is not a race. Still, no matter how small this sample size seems, there’s a lot more to assess the newest players in the NBA than there was five weeks ago.
And while we’ve been learning about them and their fit with their teams, the Class of 2022 has been learning the league, the intensity of its competition, the demands of the NBA schedule, and the harsh lessons taught by surly veteran, minor, and senior opponents. Major injuries, shaky shooting nights, and the relentless urge to win.
For players near the top of Kia’s rookie ladder, early education has included disrupting a major ankle sprain (Orlando’s Paolo Banchero), a reminder that starting matters less than finishing (Indiana’s Bennedict Mathurin) and the frequent disconnect between good statistics and winning basketball (Sacramento’s Keegan Murray).
For Detroit’s Jaden Ivey, there’s been a little bit of everything. Already, the fifth overall pick in draft last june he has lost nearly as many times in a month as he has in his two college seasons combined at Purdue (47-18 to the Pistons’ 4-15). He tried to complement the rookie star of last year’s team, Cade Cunningham, until Cunningham left seven games ago. with pain in the left shin. That pushed Ivey into a different and bigger role, yet another adjustment. Then there’s been the usual rookie stuff, like playing twice in two nights instead of twice in a week. And all that free time without classes.
Early in Detroit’s current six-game trip, Ivey chatted briefly with NBA.com’s Mark Medina, who shared some of the notes and quotes with the Ladders Committee. Ranked No. 2 for the second week in a row, the speedy 6-foot-4 guard said his NBA experience thus far has been “everything I’ve ever dreamed of.”
How is that?
“Being able to play against some of the best players every night,” he said, “and being able to put on an NBA uniform and compete in all these historic arenas. I’m enjoying every second.”
“Every Second” clearly has to do with attitude, because it includes back-to-back routines and the Pistons’ recent seven-game losing streak. Of the former, Ivey said: “You have to wake up the next day and make sure for the next game. It takes a huge mental block to do that.” And of the latter, “Marking the ball is great. But victory is what matters. I put that on. I’m a rookie, but I have to keep learning as much as I can to put ourselves in a great position to win.”
One head start: Playing for Detroit has Ivey close to family. His father, Javin Hunter, was a native of that city before playing wide receiver at Notre Dame and in the NFL. Jaden Ivey’s grandfather, James Hunter, was a defensive back for the Detroit Lions. from 1976 to 1982. Her mother, Niele Ivey, played in the WNBA for the Indiana Fever and Detroit Shock before becoming a coach Notre Dame women’s basketball team.
“I get to visit my grandparents and my father,” Ivey told NBA.com. “I also have ties from my mother’s family. She has her mom’s cousins and part of her family there. It’s an honor to be able to play for a great organization and play in Detroit, where I spent some of my summers. I love the city, being here and wearing the Pistons jersey every day. I want to represent the city.”
So far, with his speed, quickness and raw potential, Ivey is representing very well. On this week’s Ladder he’s joined by a couple of new faces, vying for those lower rungs.
This week’s Top 5 on the 2022-23 Kia Rookie Scale:
(All statistics up to Tuesday, November 22)
1. Benedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
Mathurin had to cast a shadow in what could have been a two-game head-to-head with ROY’s rival Paolo Banchero, who missed the pair in Indianapolis on Saturday and Monday. The Pacers rookie scored 22 points in Game 2 and averaged 17 points and 4.5 rebounds on 40% shooting, but his team won both. Interestingly, Mathurin’s stats during Indiana’s five-game winning streak (16.8 ppg, 40% FG, 37.5% 3FG) aren’t as flashy as they were in the team’s 5-6 start (20.4, 46 %, 43.7%), but continues to lead. all NBA reserves in scoring.
2. Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons snapped their seven-game skid by beating Denver on Tuesday, without Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey or Isaiah Stewart. That propelled Ivey into his biggest role yet, and he racked up seven points, six rebounds, five assists and four turnovers on 3-for-11 shooting on 10 minus in 26 minutes in a two-point win. The threat of him ever present to explode to the brim opens up passing lanes for him even when he doesn’t power up his own outside shooting (with the exception of his 4-for-4 from arc in Sacramento, he’s shot 4-for-31 from deep since Nov. 14). His backcourt partner Cunningham (left shin) is out indefinitely, which hurts the development of synergy between the two but increases Ivey’s reps.
Ivey goes from coast to coast in four dribbles ⏩ pic.twitter.com/MuwV6oJlmj
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) November 23, 2022
3. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
The ladder committee expects Banchero to return to the scene when his sprained left ankle, which has cost him seven straight games, is sufficiently healed, perhaps by Friday against the Sixers. No one else in the Class of 2022 comes close to Banchero, per game, in points, rebounds, minutes, FGA or points in the paint (11.8). But because of this layoff (missing nearly 40% of the Orlando game now), Ivey has played 50% more minutes, Mathurin has racked up 19% more points and 23 of his fellow rookies have tasted victory more often. than the first selection (only twice).
4. Jabari Smith, Jr., Houston Rockets
Of course, his highest score so far of 22 points “only” came against the Golden State Warriors. on Sunday. But Smith was 5-of-5 from the arc, hitting three of his nine 3-pointers and grabbing seven rebounds against a mostly intact version of the defending champions. The 19-year-old has shot the most 3-pointers (96) of any rookie, and his 29 equals 30.2% accuracy.
Tari & Bari got down to work 😤
Check out the highlights 👇 pic.twitter.com/0MWfoQXZpB
—Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 21, 2022
5. Keegan Murray, Kings of Sacramento
Murray returned from a sore back to play two games this week. He scored 13 points against Detroit and then had the worst performance of his in Memphis on Tuesday. The Kings wing scored two points on 1-of-8 shooting and missed all four of his 3-pointers. He has missed 11 of 12 3-pointers in his last three appearances. The good news? His babbling on both ends has coverage and hasn’t interrupted Sacramento’s winning streak.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) November 21, 2022
the next 5
6. Tari Eason, Houston Rockets
He leads the NBA, not just rookies, in steal percentage (3.8%).
7. Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers
His 42.9% 3FG is the best among rookies who have played at least 10 games.
8. Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder
He finished with 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the Memphis start.
9. Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons
Oh to clean up a holiday mess like Duren clean on the edge.
T-10. AJ Griffin, Atlanta Falcons
Buzzer-beater vs. Raptors he beat his father Adrián’s team (assistant coach).
T-10. Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers
I shoot 57%/43%/100% per week, no turnovers at 20.3 mpg.
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