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Jaden Ivey's Transition Offense | The Friday Screener
Jaden Ivey is one of the best prospects in the country and his transition offense is a major reason why he is such an electric player.
Jaden Ivey entered this season as one of the top returning prospects for the Purdue Boilermakers, but he has exceeded many expectations through his electric scoring and freakish athleticism. These traits are highlighted the most when Ivey is in the open floor. Many freak athletes are successful transition scorers because they are prone to above-the-rim finishes. While Ivey frequently rewards us with jaw-dropping dunks in transition, he also is adept at setting up teammates and finishing with finesse.
This season, Ivey ranks in the 65th percentile in transition offense with 1.129 points per possession (PPP), per Synergy. He is eager to run and is an absolute menace if the defense doesn’t pick him up. Ivey is comfortable turning blocks and rebounds into transition scores, leaking out after shot contests, and streaking up the wing to make himself available to teammates.
Here, as Ivey crosses half-court, he sees that he is unguarded, so he immediately looks to the ball-handler for the ball. His teammate wisely obliges. Ivey quickly takes advantage of Zach Edey clearing out the lane with his post-up and skies over the feeble weak side rotation. If you pause it at the right time, you’ll see Ivey’s eyes are damn near at the rim.
The explosiveness is breathtaking, but the truly special athleticism that Ivey displays is his change-of-pace and body control. Plenty of NBA-level athletes can attack an undeterred lane to the rim and finish with a thunderous dunk. What sets Ivey’s transition scoring game apart is his ability to also finish with finesse.
Here, Ivey again makes an overlapping run as his teammate cuts inside, and no one on the defense picks him up. Ivey gets the ball in a similar spot, just on the opposite side of the floor, with a clear runway to the rim. The difference, however, is the help defender being timelier with his rotation and meeting Ivey further outside the restricted area. Ivey could attempt to sky over Brady Manek, but it would likely end in either a charge or a dunk attempt that doesn’t come close. Instead, Ivey utilizes his freak athleticism to execute a beautiful Euro step. Ivey’s unique ability to decelerate allows him to stay under control while executing this difficult move. Ivey initially plants his right foot about two feet outside the lane to propel him towards the center of the floor. Ivey’s ground coverage here is extraordinary as his second step lands in the middle of the lane. The defender can’t react quick enough, and Ivey finishes through the contact.
Of Ivey’s total possessions, 30.4 percent of them have been in transition, and he’s been the ball-handler in 71 percent of those where he’s scored 1.136 PPP (79th percentile). Ivey’s straight-line speed allows him to go coast to coast in the blink of an eye to score, but his dynamic scoring and eye-popping athleticism also draw significant attention from the defense. These scenarios make Ivey’s transition offense so encouraging because he also shows off his unselfish nature and playmaking instincts.
When Ivey attacks the rim in transition, he doesn’t have his mindset on a singular outcome. He reads the defense and takes what they give him. If they fail to pick him up, he will gladly take the easy basket, but he rarely forces the issue and tries to exploit something that isn’t there. Instead, he counters the defensive rotations and coverages by rewarding his teammates who run the floor with him.
Here, Ivey secures the rebound and blazes past most of the North Carolina team. Ivey uses a lovely push-dribble/crossover hybrid to split the defenders and get into space. This move allows him to attack from the right, where he’s more comfortable, and force the defense to rotate away from his teammate streaking up the left-wing. Ivey stops on a dime to avoid the charge and delivers a perfect skip pass to the shooter’s pocket for the open three.
Ivey created that three because of his blistering pace to beat the defense down the floor. Even when the defense is mostly back, Ivey frequently creates similar situations. Here, Ivey starts to bring the ball up after the rebound, and the entire defense is on their side of half-court. However, Ivey sees a lane to exploit. As Ivey approaches half-court, he shifts into 5th gear, and once he gets to Edey’s makeshift screen, he hits the NOS to reach another level of speed. Manek can only turn and chase in hopes of preventing a layup, and the rest of the defense has to scramble to make their rotations far earlier than they expected. Ivey leaves his feet to fully simulate a layup, which gets the defense to fully commit, and then makes a perfect pass against his momentum right into the shooter’s pocket for an open three.
Ivey isn’t picky about who he rewards in transition. He will gladly set up the elite shooters that surround him, but if the defense takes them away, he’ll gleefully set up the hustling big men, as we see below.
Once Ivey receives the outlet pass, Purdue is already in a 3v2 situation before hitting half-court. Ivey has one of the country’s best shooters on his left and a quality interior finisher on his right. Ivey pushes with pace down the middle and reads that the defense has settled on stopping him first while shading to recover to the shooter. Ivey attacks as far as he can, which draws the defender to a spot where he can’t quickly rotate to Ivey’s teammate. Ivey doesn’t allow the defender to get set to take a charge and shovels a pass for an easy layup.
Ivey’s eagerness to receive outlet passes and ability to grab-and-go is essential, but his transition offense is significantly buoyed by his on-ball defense. Ivey isn’t the most technically sound defender, but his motor and athleticism result in him blocking a lot of shots, which he then rapidly turns into points on the other end.
As we can see here, Ivey doesn’t have pristine footwork, but he stays tight on his man and has the athleticism to swat away the shot with ease. Once Ivey gathers the loose ball, he immediately runs in transition, flanked by teammates. Ivey is in a nearly identical setup as we saw earlier, and the result is pretty much the same. Ivey knows the defender is looking to take a charge, so he takes off a little earlier. This decision allows Ivey to contort his body slightly to the side and make sure the defender isn’t fully set, therefore avoiding the garbage pass-and-crash call.
Few players in the country are as explosive, effective, and reliable running in transition as Jaden Ivey is. His otherworldly burst allows him to beat defenses down the floor where he can finish with power or grace. Even when defenses think they are back, Ivey’s athleticism turns should-be half-court possessions into easy transition scores. He is unselfish and a brilliant passer, despite generating momentum that most of us feeble mortals wouldn’t know how to handle. Most of Ivey’s game feels like it will translate seamlessly to the NBA, but his transition offense stands in a class of its own.