It is no secret that Ivey is considered the fourth-best prospect in this year’s class behind Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero. This means if the Kings are to mimic what they've done the last two years and take the best player available, Ivey will almost certainly be in Sacramento to begin his career.
Though most fans and analysts agree that Ivey is the type of player the Kings need, there is one large concern: can Ivey co-exist in a backcourt alongside De’Aaron Fox?
More insane concentration on contact finishes, this time lefty. Oh yeah, in a tie game with 15 seconds left as well. pic.twitter.com/nmpdrr5bfM— Kings Film Room (@SacFilmRoom) June 13, 2022
Ivey and Fox have a lot of similarities in their game. Both players are hyper athletic guards with a great inside attack, and each thrives when the ball is in their hands. Both draw a lot of attention when they drive to the paint and look for open shooters to kick the ball out to when defenders close in on them. Like Fox, Ivey also needs to work on his jump shot but has the potential to be a very dangerous shooter from both the three and mid-range.
Here's your nightly, ridiculous, coast to coast dunk from Jaden Ivey— Draft Dummies (@DraftDummies) December 21, 2021
The defense is back and it just doesn't matter at all... pic.twitter.com/UpGubDLKhD
Ivey would provide the Kings with a reliable scorer not named Fox or Domantas Sabonis while also helping them on defense. He has shown that he can be relentless on defense and can give opposing guards grief with his length and athleticism.
So, where is the issue?
With Ivey requiring the ball in his hands to be most effective, will his game be hurt playing at the two? And will he, in turn, hurt Fox’s game like Tyrese Haliburton did?
As Ivey certainly knows, the NBA is very guard heavy at the moment, with the vast majority of teams having a solidified starting point guard. As such, Ivey would likely have to take the backseat regardless of where he ends up. He will either have to outplay someone and take their role, or learn how to play off the ball. With the odds of Ivey outplaying Fox being extremely low, off the ball makes more sense.
There also isn’t any real evidence that Ivey plays poorly off the ball. Last year at Purdue, he played with two big men that were the second and third leading scorers on the team. Both bigs have great offensive post games and often made things happen for others as well as themselves. This means that on multiple possessions Ivey was the third option, something he did extremely well.
Playing off the ball as a rookie could also have some benefits. It would allow Ivey the chance to adjust to the speed of an NBA game without the pressure of leading an offense. With Fox and Sabonis also both drawing in teams’ main defenders, Ivey would get the opportunity to work on his three-point shot when they kick it out to him. Last season, Davion Mitchell had to learn how to adjust his shot to get it past the more skilled NBA defenders. Ivey will have to do the same.
Ivey has all the tools in the world to be successful in the NBA whether he is the primary ball handler or not. He just needs his shot.