In rookie forward Saddiq Bey’s second NBA game action — and his first NBA start — he played 30 minutes, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven boards against the Atlanta Hawks. The box score doesn’t scream awesomeness, with a 3-for-11 shooting line, but box scores can’t reveal measured aggressiveness and assuredness a player displays on offense. In short, Bey doesn’t lack much confidence on the offensive end and his aggressiveness is a big reason why,
Let’s focus on Bey’s offense against the Hawks and the Golden State Warriors (games two and three of Bey’s career).
Saddiq Against Atlanta:
Here’s the very first score for Bey in his Pistons career. He could have used the Mason Plumlee screen for a mid-range shot with the shot clock winding down, but instead he went with the more patient, more veteran approach. He went about getting a high quality shot at his own pace. His jab steps and the threat of using the screen froze the defender just enough to give Bey the room he needed.
Saddiq gets out in transition, filling his lane and signaling to Delon Wright that he’s in the clear (space to attack the defense or spot up). De’Andre Hunter doesn’t pick him up very close or early. For better or for worse, Bey knew he was going to get one up. Can’t fault his awareness and confidence, as it’s a must have.
Bey had just one thing on his mind during this semi-fast break trailing fellow rook Killian Hayes. He didn’t capitalize, but we’ll give him credit since it was a decisive move towards the hoop against a “get-able” defender in Bogdan Bogdanovic. The help defender, Clint Capela, cleans up by simply staying tall and not overcommitting to the block too early. It’s one of the main things Capela excels at. Though, for Bey, a jump stop with a floater before getting deep into the paint could have been an option, however that magic might not be in Bey’s bag.
Moving without the ball is certainly a skill all NBA players need to have to some degree, and some do it better than others. Many do it with sheer quickness and agility, while others depend on precision teamwork to aid them in getting to a certain area they want to be or need to be. Bey does his job well in this one, but I think he bailed out Hunter by picking up his dribble too soon. I think Bey sped himself up (rather than the defender doing so) after working deftly to be in good position to receive the pass from point-Plumlee. Ultimately, however, it was a decisive sequence from Bey. Over time this season, we’ll see him play at his own pace more often than not once he becomes more consistently comfortable.
Bey, though not a slow-motion type of player like Kyle “Slo Mo” Anderson, isn’t a speed demon either. He doesn’t really need to be. He’s going to use angles, his strength, his footwork, and his IQ to get to where he needs to go. He’s going to pick his spots. Every young player could learn a thing or two from Kyle Anderson.
Here, Bey again does a solid job of moving to open space (usually the corner three is prime real estate on the hardwood) and settling in good triple-threat position, however, a pump fake to let the defender skate by would have probably worked. Because Bey was in triple-threat, he had the opportunity for one power dribble to create more time and space for a less rushed shot or basketball play.
Last clip from this Atlanta game is of Bey doing quick work (shot clock expiring!), starting on the perimeter and finishing in the post against a capable shot blocker in Capela. Seems to me Bey does just about everything right in this sequence. I particularly like the slight, quick chest shot to Capela by Bey to create a little extra space before he gathers and fades away. And the pivot foot action couldn’t have been much better. Bey has some stuff in his bag, and he’s telling y’all about it. Also, Isaiah Stewart likes Bey’s move too... so it must be impressive!
Saddiq Against Golden State:
Against the Warriors, Bey was given somewhat of a short leash due to certain defensive lapses and/or missed assignments. He also had a rough stretch starting the third quarter. In all, he earned only 15 minutes of court time in this one, shooting 3-of-9 from the floor (but 3-of-5 from downtown).
Here, Bey got back into the play and moved to open space. It wasn’t a bad shot at all, as it was a rhythm jumper. But it may have been a bit more of a rushed shot than it needed to be, as Eric Paschall would have flown by with any kind of ball fake. At any rate, I don’t think Bey was fully squared up or settled before unloading. As a shooter spotting up, oftentimes you only truly see two things: Your teammate passing you the rock and the hoop. But mostly just the hoop. It’s tunnel vision on the basketball court at its very finest. One thing is clear, Bey is quick to get locked and loaded to let it fly.
In this one (clip starts late in the drive), it seems as if Saddiq uses Plumlee’s screen to take it to rookie James Wiseman on a switch no doubt. Bey, again, knowing how to get places efficiently with his pivoting, maneuvers easily around Wiseman and misses point blank with Steph Curry in front of him. It’s a decisive, sound move — Bey knows what he wants, he just doesn’t finish. But then, on the second effort, he doesn’t go up strong, rather he seems to want to avoid contact. Are you seeing what I’m seeing with this one? My guess is that the rookie was gassed.
The rookie didn’t finish the play as strong as he could have (even with his left), but he got to where he wanted and didn’t just settle for the outside shot. As soon as Bey got Wiggins off balance and guessing, he knew he had the advantage in getting to the cup against him. Wiggins gets some credit though, as he stayed in the play on Bey’s side — too close for comfort.
Moving forward, we’ll watch for more detail on other parts of Bey’s game and his overall progression with this young team. Bey’s defensive wherewithal will become an emphasis, as will watching for clues with his ongoing confidence on the offensive end. Young players are going to have their down moments and stretches (and then some more), and Saddiq won’t be any different. It’s exciting that he does seem to be very confident in his ability to score the ball and there’s a lot to like so far in how he goes about looking for and creating his opportunities.