Former NBA scout Michael Vandegarde, who told Fox News Digital last week he thought Jaden Ivey was the best prospect in the draft, said in a recent interview he was intrigued about where the former Purdue standout eventually landed.
The Detroit Pistons selected Ivey with the No. 5 pick. It appeared he could have gone to the Sacramento Kings, but they decided to take former Iowa standout Keegan Murray with the fourth selection. Vandegarde said he thinks Ivey could fit better in Detroit and the backcourt with him and second-year player Cade Cunningham could turn into one of the best in the NBA.
“I think that in 3-5 years could be the best backcourt in the NBA. That’s exactly what Jaden Ivey needs – a cool, calm guy next to him that could control the game and then him do his thing. Just try to make Jaden Ivey your point guard is probably a little bit of a stretch right away but to have that next to him is absolutely ideal,” Vandegarde told Fox News Digital.
He said he understood why the Kings passed on Ivey, but wondered how a team that hasn’t had much success in the last 16 years passed up on a talent like Ivey.
“If It was the Kings, I probably wouldn’t have passed on him but I understand. They have De’Aaron Fox. They have Davion Mitchell, who they love. They were willing to trade (Tyrese) Haliburton to get Davion more minutes. I understand them drafting (Keegan) Murray,” Vandegarde said.
“It makes sense but to pass up star talent is really, really, really troublesome when you’re at the top of the draft. You’re bad for a reason. You need the best player. I think Jaden Ivey is the best player. But I understand why they did it and I think Jaden Ivey probably ended up in a better situation with Detroit than the Kings.”
Vandegarde, who was a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers for 18 years, compared Ivey to Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant – even more athletic.
Ivey was a consensus second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten Conference in 2022 following his sophomore season with the Boilermakers. He played in 36 games and averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists before deciding to go pro.
As far as teams doing enough to make a leap to the postseason, Vandegarde wasn’t so sure this was the draft to do it. He said he liked what the Houston Rockets did, selecting former Auburn star Jabari Smith Jr. to pair with Jalen Green, but added they were still very young.
“But I think there should be a lot of hope for the future. With Jalen Green, Jabari Smith it’s an exciting young group,” he said.
Vandegarde mentioned the Cleveland Cavaliers’ selection of Ochai Agbaji with the No. 14 pick was just what the team needed to possibly make them contenders near the top half of the Eastern Conference.
Agbaji led Kansas to a national championship last season. He was a Consensus All-American, 2022 Big 12 Player of the Year and the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He averaged 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 39 games for the Jayhawks.
“That’s exactly the type of player that they need and they’ve grown and they’ve gotten so much better in a year. That could be a piece that really elevates them into… instead of being eight, nine ten, they’re now four five, six,” Vandegarde told Fox News Digital.
The Cavaliers were in the four or five spots in the conference for most of the season until late injuries and a losing streak forced them into the play-in tournament where they would lose to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks. But with a young corps around them led by Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okorko, the team could certainly make some noise. Not to mention, Collin Sexton returning from injury to start the year will be a major help.
He mentioned other teams got guys who could help them in the long run, but nothing franchise-altering on the surface. He applauded the San Antonio Spurs, Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors for adding some key pieces with their selections.
San Antonio selected Jeremy Sochan from Baylor, the Grizzlies selected Walker Kessler from Auburn and the Warriors picked up Patrick Baldwin Jr., out of UW-Milwaukee.
While he’s not focused on scouting, Vandegarde teamed up with CoachTube. The digital platform provides online sports coaching and training from those who were experts in their respective fields.
Vandegarde recently told Fox News Digital he’s gotten a lot of good feedback from those who use it.
“It’s been wonderful. I think the coaches really like it to get their name out there. Obviously, the world has changed in the last eight to 10 years. You used to have to sell videos at Walmart on the shelves, and now everything’s moved to a digital age and the feedback has been wonderful,” he said.
“I think for somebody that lives in a certain part of the world or even a certain part of the United States, you don’t have access to the gym facilities and elite-level training. And CoachTube, I think, really fits that void.”