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The 2022 NBA draft came and went on Thursday as it was the foretaste of an interesting offseason and a hugely fascinating 2022-23 season that will culminate later this year.
Former NBA scout Michael Vandegarde, who told Fox News Digital last week he thinks Jaden Ivey is the top pick in the draft, said in a recent interview he was intrigued by where the former Purdue star ended up.
The Detroit Pistons picked Ivey with the number 5 pick. It seemed like he could have gone to the Sacramento Kings, but they decided to take former Iowa standout Keegan Murray with the fourth pick. Vandegarde said he believes Ivey could be a better fit in Detroit and with him and sophomore Cade Cunningham the backcourt could become one of the best in the NBA.
“I think that could be the best backcourt in the NBA in 3-5 years. That’s exactly what Jaden Ivey needs – a cool, calm guy next to him who can control the game and then do his thing. Just try to do Jaden Ivey, your point guard, is probably a little overwhelmed right away, but having him next to you is absolutely ideal,” Vandegarde told Fox News Digital.
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He said he understands why the Kings passed Ivey, but wonders how a team that hasn’t had much success in the past 16 years could have given up on a talent like Ivey.
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“If it had been the Kings I probably wouldn’t have passed it on, but I get it. You have De’Aaron Fox. They have Davion Mitchell who they love. They were willing to trade (Tyrese) Haliburton to give Davion more minutes. I understand they (Keegan) called up Murray,” Vandegarde said.
“It makes sense, but forgoing starting talent is really, really, really tedious when you’re at the forefront of the draft. They are 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 position than the Kings with Detroit.
Vandegarde, who was a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers for 18 years, compared Ivey to Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant — even sportier.
Ivey was a consensus All-American second-team and All-Big Ten Conference first-team after his sophomore season with the Boilermakers 2022. He played in 36 games and averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists before deciding to turn pro.
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Vandegarde wasn’t sure teams were doing enough to get into the postseason. He said he liked what the Houston Rockets were doing and selecting former Auburn star Jabari Smith Jr. to pair with Jalen Green, but added that they’re still very young.
“But I think there should be a lot of hope for the future. With Jalen Green and Jabari Smith, it’s an exciting young group,” he said.
Vandegarde mentioned that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ number 14 pick of Ochai Agbaji was just what the team needed to potentially 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 Most Outstanding Player. He averaged 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 39 games for the Jayhawks.
“That’s exactly the kind of player they need and they’ve grown and gotten so much better in a year. That might be a piece that they really become… instead of doing eight, nine ten, they’re now four, five, six,” Vandegarde told Fox News Digital.
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The Cavaliers were in the fourth or fifth place 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 turn heads. Not to mention Collin Sexton, returning from injury earlier in the year, will be of great help.
He mentioned that other teams have people that could help them in the long run, but nothing on the surface that’s changing the franchise. He applauded the San Antonio Spurs, Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors for adding some key elements to their picks.
San Antonio selected Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan, the Grizzlies selected Auburn’s Walker Kessler, and the Warriors selected Patrick Baldwin Jr. from UW-Milwaukee.
While not focused on scouting, Vandegarde has partnered with CoachTube. The digital platform offers online sports coaching and training from experts in their respective fields.
Vandegarde recently told Fox News Digital he’s had a lot of good feedback from those who use it.
“It was wonderful. I think the coaches really like getting their name out there. Obviously the world has changed in the last eight to ten years. You used to have to sell videos on the shelves at Walmart, and now it’s all moved into a digital age and the feedback has been wonderful,” he said.
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“I think for someone living in a certain part of the world, or even a certain part of the United States, you don’t have access to the elite-level fitness facilities and training. And CoachTube really fits in that gap, I think.”