The 2022 NBA draft is a homecoming for new piston Jaden Ivey » WDET 101.9 FM

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Detroit Pistons fans are excited about the team’s draft pick, 20-year-old Jaden Ivey. He played guard at Purdue but has roots here in the Motor City. Detroit News columnist John Niyo says the Detroit fanbase should be excited about their new perspective.

“Look, for Pistons fans I think [the NBA draft] was a pretty cool night for many reasons. The emotions pouring out of Jaden Ivey, his mother, and his family there were genuine, but they also reflected what was going on with the Pistons Performance Center down there in Midtown, because they were also cartwheeling. They were pretty excited. They had a plan that depended on other teams and circumstances and I don’t think anything could have gone better for them than that draft.”

And that really was the mood across the league, from pundits to commentators to fans on Twitter. They say the Detroit Pistons could have one of the best and youngest backseat in the NBA with Ivey and Cade Cunningham, last year’s No. 1 overall pick.

Niyo says Ivey’s Detroit ties make his story fascinating on and off the field.

“His mother played for the Detroit Shock, his father grew up here, went to Country Day and played football at Notre Dame, his grandfather played for the Detroit Lions, James Hunter, his grandmother owns a clothing store in town, so this is a Homecoming for him in many ways.”

“Just being in Detroit, that’s really home.” – Jaden Ivey

He says players like Ivey are particularly valuable to the Pistons right now.

“Detroit isn’t necessarily the primary destination for free agents in the league and certainly hasn’t gained much here in the last decade, but I think when you get talented and desirable guys who want to be here that’s an added bonus for an organization .”

And for Ivey, too, joining the Pistons is a valuable experience.

“I probably won’t even be that far from my grandma so I could have home-cooked meals. She makes good food for me, so just being in Detroit is really my home,” says Ivey.

While the feel-good story doesn’t necessarily mean more wins on the pitch, Niyo says Ivey has the goods there too.

“He’s arguably the most explosive athlete in this draft, certainly among the guards in this draft. He’s as fast as he can and gets past guys really effortlessly as it feels sometimes. And that’s the kind of explosive element [the Pistons] were missing.”

He says Cunningham’s ability to control the game will go well with Ivey’s speed and athleticism.

“I think they think they have a backcourt now for the next decade that can really be one of the best in the league before long.”

Photo credit: Alexander Jonesi/Wiki Commons

Listen in: John Niyo talks about the NBA draft and what to expect from the Pistons this season.

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. A longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has reported for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN, and Paste Magazine.

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