New York — Jaden Ivey put the pedal to the metal on several offensive possessions during his preseason debut Tuesday night against the New York Knicks.
As a 20-year-old rookie, his speed is one of his main strengths, on both ends of the floor. There were occasions when Ivey beat his man to finish at the rim, but in most cases, he looked to create scoring opportunities for his teammates.
Early in the first quarter, Ivey drove past Knicks guard Jalen Brunson and Evan Fournier met him in the paint to force a double-team. However, the young Pistons guard swung the ball to the opposite corner to Bojan Bogdanovic, who passed to a wide-open Cade Cunningham. In the second quarter, Ivey drew two defenders and dumped the ball to Isaiah Stewart for an open layup attempt.
Neither possession yielded points for the Pistons, but the degree of difficulty for those shots was suboptimal. Both are examples of Ivey choosing when to use his speed and how it benefits his teammates.
After the game, Ivey said he felt more composed than he had in previous scrimmages.
“I felt like I just kind of slowed down a little bit and it was kind of surprising because, other games I feel like I was out of control,” Ivey told The Detroit News. “I felt composed this game. I just have to keep learning how to get to my spots better, and as a team, we need to get stops on defense; that’s going to ultimately lead to helping us offensively.”
Ivey finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and made his only 3-point attempt, along with a perfect 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. He added four rebounds, two assists and a steal to round out his first game in a Pistons uniform.
He often made the right decision by choosing when to be aggressive and when to slow down, something he learned in training camp.
“Just going too fast (in previous practices),” Ivey said. “And in the game setting, you just have to get to a certain gear where it’s not the fastest but sometimes I gotta get to the burners. Sometimes I gotta go fast, but you can’t go fast all the time.”
Pistons guard Hamidou Diallo became the fourth member of the team to sustain an injury after suffering a leg contusion in practice ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Knicks.
Despite missing the first preseason game, he didn’t give much cause for concern, but also didn’t have a timetable of when he’d be ready for game action. Diallo practiced on Wednesday, but Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Diallo fought through it and revealed that rookie center Jalen Duren is also experiencing some pain.
“Hami’s a little gimpy,” Casey said. “We got quite a few guys banged up a little bit, but fighting through it. I thought Hami fought through it today. He’s still not 100%. Duren’s a little gimpy, but this is the time of the year. There’s nobody that’s 100%. If you are, you’re wrong — If you’re not a little sore, a little banged up from training camp. That’s what training camp is for, you fight through those things.”
Guard Cory Joseph and wing Isaiah Livers spent the majority of their time in the second unit, the rotation Diallo would’ve likely been a part of if healthy. When Diallo returns, he brings another wing defender to the mix for the Pistons, along with more athleticism to pair in a lineup with the likes of Killian Hayes, Livers and Duren.
Livers’ shooting a focus
Despite limited game action last season, Isaiah Livers proved to be the most efficient 3-point shooter for the Pistons.
Now, the former Michigan standout has set his heights on a bigger feat, with backing from his head coach.
“I talked to (Dwane) Casey, man. He wants me to be one of the best shooters in the NBA, and I want to be one of the best shooters in the NBA as well. When you got coaches that believe in you, players that believe in you, I’m gonna shoot it with confidence. It’s going in every time, that’s the way it feels.”
Livers was 3-of-7 on 3-pointers in the preseason opener.