Rookie Saddiq Bey was a ‘big-time bright spot’ during the Detroit Pistons’ preseason opener

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

Derrick Rose had plenty of preparation for his rookie season in 2008. He joined the U.S.A. Select Team that July, and also participated in the NBA’s summer league.

By comparison, he thinks the Detroit Pistons’ rookies this season are getting a raw deal. They played their first preseason game on Friday with no summer league experience and less than a week of training camp. It makes a transition that’s already difficult for many rookies, that much harder.

“It’s really not fair when you think about it, bro,” Rose said. “It’s really not. I was able to play through summer league, I was able to go through U.S.A. Basketball, play on the select team, and you’re throwing all these kids in the fire.”

By that standard, Saddiq Bey had a more-than-solid preseason debut for the Pistons on Friday. He tied a team-high with 14 points, led the team in total shot attempts (12) and 3-point attempts (nine) and was also a team-high plus-12. 

In a game the Pistons trailed for most of the night and ultimately lost, 90-84, Bey was one of the biggest bright spots. He shot the ball confidently, and Dwane Casey praised his defense. Even though he only went 4-12 overall from the floor, the offense seemed to flow better while he was in the game. 

“My teammates encouraged everybody to be aggressive and shoot open shots,” Bey said. “I just feel comfortable trying to do that and trying to play my game and help the team win. It wasn’t anything too specific, it was just trying to take the open shots.” 

He could already be one of the best shooters on the roster, as he’s coming off of a season at Villanova that saw him hit 45.1% of his 3-pointers. The Pistons as a whole didn’t shoot well on Friday, and spacing could be an issue this season as the roster lacks knockdown shooters. But the Knicks’ defense respected Bey, and he made enough shots to continue drawing defenders. 

Casey hinted that Bey could receive more minutes, particularly when the Pistons play small. Bey is 6-foot-8, and has the size to play both forward spots. Other than perhaps Blake Griffin, he was Detroit’s best forward on Friday. 

It’s only one preseason game, but Casey is encouraged by what he saw. 

“The game wasn’t too big for him,” Casey said. “He came in and played. Really happy to see him, and there’s some minutes to be had at the three and four position when we do go small. That was a big-time bright spot for us was his play. And again, I’m not just looking at the points. Everybody said well, he scored 14 points. I’m looking at just his overall compete level, his positioning and his play on the defensive end was solid.”

Killian Hayes, who started at point guard and played the highest minutes total among the rookies, didn’t have as seamless a transition as his fellow rookie. Hayes tallied five points, four rebounds, three assists and seven turnovers. 

Hayes made some nice reads, particularly  in the second quarter, but he forced the issue too often and struggled to settle into an offensive rhythm. It was his first live action game since March, and he’ll have additional opportunities to prove himself during preseason. 

“Killian has to relax and just play,” Casey said. “He’s wound tight, a little uptight. That’ll come. His typical first exposition game for him.

“He’s just gotta forget the play, bow by him and play basketball,” Casey said. “When they’re pressuring you, we don’t have all of our stuff in. There were two things in for him to go to. It’ll help him a lot and once we’re able to get him off the ball. And Delon (Wright’s) gotta come back, help him out too, get him off the ball a little more. 

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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