The story for the Detroit Pistons as the regular season started was Saddiq Bey and the flashes he showed of shot creation during the preseason. He looked comfortable doing it and was pulling out moves never seen out of him during his rookie season.
Players should always strive to expand their games. Having a young player that is not satisfied with being just a 3-and-D wing is a great sign for the future development of the team.
Adding the ability to create his own shot to his already proven 3-point shooting could turn Saddiq Bey into a second or third option who can be counted on for around 20 points a night. However, as the season has gone on, the flashes of self-creation are still there at times, but Bey is struggling mightily to finish at the rim.
These struggles have trickled to the rest of his game as he has seemingly lost confidence in his shot.
Bey was not great finishing at the rim as a rookie. He shot 52.9% from 0-of-5 feet from the basket as a rookie, which was one of the lower marks on the team. The only players lower were not regular rotation members like Killian Hayes and Dennis Smith Jr. However, since he was taking far fewer attempts (1.9 per game) it was never a crippling issue.
Now that he has started to expand his game and take more shots inside, the struggles to finish are a lot more jarring and damaging to the team’s offense.
Bey is currently taking the second-most attempts on the team within 5 feet of the rim at 4.5 per game. Not only is that a sharp jump from his rookie year, but he is shooting just 50.6% on these attempts. It is the lowest percentage on the team outside of Killian Hayes, who is only taking 1.5 attempts a game.
This is actually an improvement over his numbers from 0-5 feet for a large part of the season, as he has been hovering around the 48 percent mark for most of the season. League average within feet is roughly 60%.
If you move further out, things don’t get much better. He is only shooting 33% from 5-9 feet and 20% from 10-14 feet. Granted, he is only averaging about 2 attempts per game from those ranges combined, so it is not as crippling as the finishing inside numbers.
Bey’s overall shooting numbers have crept towards the area of very concerning as we hit the 20-game mark of the season. He is currently shooting 36% from the field on 13.4 attempts per game and 29.4% from 3-point range on 6.1 attempts per game.
Some of this could be written off due to early season struggles. Everybody on this team is shooting poorly and things have to start improving eventually. However, the Pistons shooting as a team has started to get better in the past couple of weeks. Players like Frank Jackson and Jerami Grant are starting to creep closer to their career norms from 3-point range. Bey has continued his struggles and nothing is working for him right now.
20 games of the season could still be considered a “small sample size” for some people, but I think it is enough time to at least start to bring up some concerns.
Bey showed a lot of promise last season. The early signs for this season were also encouraging after watching him play in preseason. He looked like somebody who could be a legitimate shot creator as a third option on a team. This is not to say that he still cannot become that as sophomore slumps are a real thing that many players deal with.
Bey deserves credit for trying to expand his game. But at some point, something has to give and you need to start getting him back to doing what he is more comfortable doing in hopes that he starts to get his confidence back.
It is not time to bench him, especially in what is looking like another bad season for the Pistons. You want your future core playing together and developing chemistry and you want a young player to play through their struggles. But it might be time for Bey to take a step back and focus on the things he was good at as a rookie. You don’t need to completely abandon developing his shot creation game, but you might want to put a hold on it for the time being.
Expanding a player’s game is great. Especially in a year when expectations are low because the Pistons are supposed to be bad. But if expanding a player’s game is causing adverse effects to other parts of their game, something has to change. That is where we are at with Saddiq Bey.