The Detroit Pistons may not make the headlines with their performances as a team, however they have some interesting storylines this seasons.
Rookie Saddiq Bey, who was named Eastern Conference’s player of the week on Monday, is one of those stories. Starting from a basketball family, as his mother and his father played basketball in collegiate level.
Bey was raised by his mother, who has in high regard crediting his work ethic on and off the court to her. Bey had a rocky start in his high school career, but as his growth spurt, everything took its course.
He was a 5’9” guard during his freshman year in DeMatha Catholic High School of Maryland. The Charlotte native was buried in depth charts to the likes of Markelle Fultz, Terrell Allen and other highly rated high-school athletes.
He sought a transfer to D.C’s exclusive Sidwell Friends School. From there, Bey found his way to highly rated universities like Florida, NC State, Georgetown, Connecticut, Xavier and of course Villanova.
Career in Villanova
Bey was a perfect fit in Jay Wright’s system having a steady presence in Villanova’s starting lineup becoming the first freshman since Ryan Arcidiacono to average 25+ minutes per contest.
After a great freshman season as a Wildcat, Bey had the chance to polished his defensive skills in his sophomore season being guarding the best player of the opponents night in-night out.
Bey won the Julius Erving Award at the end of the season as the nation’s top small forward averaging 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game.
He was the third Villanova forward to win the award following Josh Hart in 2017 and Mikal Bridges in 2018. He also polished his shot from deep shooting at a 45-percent clip on 5.8 attempts per game.
Bey was on his way to the 2020 NBA Draft being labeled as the only clear-cut NBA-ready 3-and-D wing in the 2020. The Pistons clearly wanted Bey on the team and they got him via trade.
The Brooklyn Nets selected him 19th overall and traded his rights to the Detroit Pistons on the same day in a three-team deal.
NBA-Ready in Rebuilding Pistons
The past offseason, the Detroit Pistons hired Troy Weaver as their president of basketball operation and began to work towards a full-blown rebuild acquiring three players via draft.
While Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart are still pretty raw talents, Bey became immediately part of Dwane Casey’s rotation. His elite shooting and his defensive abilities helped to quickly become the starting forward of the Pistons.
Despite some ups downs, which are pretty normal for a rookie, Bey has been excellent in his role shooting 42.6-percent from deep, while he attempts 4.6 threes per game.
Through the last four games, Bey led the Pistons to a 3-1 record shooting 69.6-percent from deep and 71.4-percent from the field.
During the upset win over the Boston Celtics Friday, Bey became the first rookie in NBA history to make at least seven 3-pointers in a game without a miss, per ESPN’s Stats and Info.
He went off for a career-high 30 points on seven-out-of seven makes from three-point range. He set a franchise record for most threes by a rookie and showed flashes of his incredibly high-ceiling talent.
The 6’8” forward showed all his qualities in that game, especially in the offense with his shot-making, the off-the-ball movement and his strong upper body, which helps him create space inside the paint.
Of course what we see in Bey is not the finished product, the Villanova product needs to improve his ball-handling skills and become even more aggressive in driving to the basket.
The shooting is already at an elite level for the 21-years-old, but if he works his all-around skills, Bey could be an All-Star in some years from now.
The Detroit Pistons’ young core
The Detroit Pistons added a huge bulk of promising talent bringing also Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant and Delon Wright to lead the youngings without increasing dramatically the team’s projected wins.
They also added Josh Jackson, who was a Top-4 pick just a few years back and if he keeps playing well he can become a valuable asset for the franchise.
Furthermore, the head coach Dwane Casey is also a valuable asset with his experience from a winning franchise such as the Toronto Raptors.
Working towards turning a franchise to a winning organization in so many years of mediocrity since the end of the 2010s is a tough ask, however Saddiq Bey seems to be a good start for the Pistons’ plan.