After spending the summer high-altitude training, Saddiq Bey is in the best shape of his life. No, for real. Bey comes into the season at roughly the same playing weight from a season ago, but he looks physically different. He’s lowed his body fat, and he appears ready to build on an already impressive resume with the Detroit Pistons.
In two seasons as a Piston, Bey has developed into a volume three-point shooter, averaging 7 attempts and 36.1% from behind the arc. In his second season, Bey also showed offensive growth, nearly doubling his attempts off of the dribble and improving as a passer.
Bey may not be an athletic freak by NBA standards, but he is a man who eats, sleeps, and breathes basketball. His work ethic allows him to overcome his natural athletic limitations. He is constantly working on his game, his mind, and his body, and the improvements from year to year are evident on the court.
If there were any questions about Bey’s potential, those questions were largely addressed when Bey singly-handedly torched the Orlando Magic to the tune of 51 points. Not bad for a guy who was viewed during the draft process as a high-level role player who would be capped by a lack of athleticism.
Know your role, Saddiq Bey
Bey may not be the Pistons' leading scorer this season, but he will be in the conversation. With the Pistons fielding one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, and last season’s leading scorer Jerami Grant off to Portland, the Pistons will look to Bey to provide some consistency and maturity on the court, especially on the offensive end.
Bey’s role in the offense won’t be to facilitate, at least not primarily. The Pistons’ offense goes through Cade Cunningham. But Bey will be expected to capitalize on the opportunities created for him by Cunningham and the other primary ball handlers on the floor. He will also be expected to create offense for himself, something he’s getting better and better at.
In fact, expect Bey to have more featured opportunities. In the second quarter, when many of the starters are getting their rest, Bey may be the guy the Pistons leave in to keep pace with the other team.
Defensively, Bey will spend his time guarding the opposing team’s forwards. Bey has shown to be serviceable on defense, but that won’t be his calling card. Instead, Bey will focus on contesting shots and playing within the Pistons’ defensive scheme each night, which will likely focus on funneling the offense toward Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, and company.
Bey has taken positive steps year-over-year, but this season might be the most important for him and the Pistons as they look to compete in each and every game. Bey is a good NBA player. Making the jump from an average NBA player to a good NBA player is one thing. But making the jump from a good player to a player that flirts with an All-Star appearance will prove to be more difficult. Bey’s role and utilization this season will likely afford him the opportunity to show that he is capable of becoming that player.
The minimum expectations for Bey heading into year three would be to match his scoring totals from a season ago but with slightly better efficiency. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Bey to hover around 40% from behind the arc, and average nearly 20-points, three assists, and keep his turnover numbers around his career average of 1.0 per game.
Bey isn’t expected to be the Pistons' best player this season. And if he is, that likely means that Cunningham didn’t take the next step in his development that we would have hoped for. But where Bey falls in this spectrum of outcomes may be the difference in the Pistons being able to compete for a play-in spot or compete for a top draft pick. Expect Bey to have a significant role for the Pistons this season, and expect him to be one of the team’s most important players in the 2022-23 season. These may be lofting expectations for the third-year player, but Bey has proven to be a player the Pistons can trust.