Would Jaden Ivey and Dejounte Murray Fit Together?

In the 2022 NBA Draft, three players stand out as obvious picks if the San Antonio Spurs are fortunate enough to move up to a top four spot following the draft lottery on May 17th: Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith. Banchero brings the offensive potential, Holmgren would add offensive upside and elite rim protection, and Smith’s draw is shooting and defensive versatility.

A fourth player who deserves a spot on the same tier doesn’t come with as obvious of a fit. Jaden Ivey is a 6-foot-4 guard out of Purdue who averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while shooting 46.0% from the field, 35.8% from three-point range and 74.4% at the free throw line. Another 6-foot-4 guard isn’t exactly what the Spurs need — but Ivey’s physical tools and hard-nosed style of play are impressive enough that San Antonio shouldn’t hesitate to draft him.

Ivey’s otherworldly speed with the ball would make him an instant threat as a rookie. He also has enough craft and leaping ability to be a capable finisher early in his career.

Could Jaden Ivey and Dejounte Murray Play Together in the Same Backcourt?

At first blush, it might seem like Ivey and Dejounte Murray would overlap too much to be an effective backcourt pairing. However, the more of Ivey’s tape I watch, the more I think the guards would actually complement each other well.

Ivey and Murray are basically the same size: 6-foot-4-ish with a 6-foot-9-ish wingspan. Murray is maybe a little bit taller and longer. On the other hand, Ivey has a thicker frame. He’s listed at 200 pounds now and can probably get up to about 215 pounds without losing any athleticism. 

Against most teams, Murray would defend the point guard and Ivey would defend the shooting guard. Ivey isn’t going to get pushed around and, with their powers combined, the pairing has enough height and length to thrive on the defensive end.

The offensive end is a little bit trickier. Most scouts think Ivey’s long-term position is point guard, but currently his point guard skills are rudimentary at best. At Purdue, he mostly played off the ball and didn’t run many pick-and-rolls. In San Antonio, that would remain his role — at least in his first couple seasons.

Murray would retain his point guard job description, with Ivey helping out with some of the ball-handling duties. Relieved of playmaking responsibilities, there’s a chance that Ivey quickly becomes a high-end scorer sooner rather than later. Murray, with some of his ball-handling duties reduced, should become a more efficient offensive player.

Where Murray and Ivey would really complement each other well is in transition. They could play pressure defense and then get out and run. That’d be a fearsome duo on the fast break and it’d give the Spurs even more incentive to push the pace.

What Stops Jaden Ivey from Climbing San Antonio’s Big Board?

On the Spurs Big Board 1.0, I had Ivey in the fourth slot — and that’s where he will remain in the forthcoming edition. I like him as a prospect but the Spurs so desperately need talented height that I don’t think Ivey can pass Banchero, Holmgren or Smith. That said, if the Spurs get the fourth pick, he’s a no-brainer. The only other player you could make an argument for based on talent and potential is Shaedon Sharpe, but I just don’t think the Spurs would pick Sharpe.

Ivey’s three-point shooting is a little worrisome. He shot five three-pointers a game and hit for a respectable percentage (35.8%) but his shooting form is stiff and he doesn’t get much lift on his jumper. If he doesn’t shoot at least that well in the NBA, his fit next to Murray probably doesn’t end up working.

Ivey has a lot of bad habits on offense and defense that need to be ironed out. He can be a lazy defender and his dribbling, passing and decision-making all need work on the other end. It’s possible those shortcomings could slow his transition to the NBA. 

Jaden Ivey’s Long-Term Fit on the Spurs

If Ivey is the highest rated player on the Spurs board, I think the best idea is to pick him and just figure out the rest later. If Ivey ends up needing the ball a lot and blossoms into a point guard, the Spurs should then look into trading Murray in a couple seasons. If Ivey becomes a full-time scoring guard, San Antonio would need to surround him with a lot of shooting to maximize his driving ability. But, again, those would be considerations for another day.

In the May 17th draft lottery, the Spurs have a 5.7% chance of getting the fourth pick. On draft day, if Ivey is still on the board at four, he’s the pick. In fact, I wouldn’t hate picking him anywhere in the top four. He’s a reasonably good fit, he’s an amazing athlete and his ceiling is sky high.