How Detroit Pistons’ Saddiq Bey stacks up in talented 2020 NBA rookie class

Detroit Free Press

Marlowe Alter | Detroit Free Press

Sure, the Detroit Pistons stink — again.

But, for the first time in years, maybe even a decade, there is a glimmer of hope for sustained success — and not just pointless battles for the eighth seed and a sweep out of the playoffs.

If you look beyond the league’s second-worst record, many of the Pistons’ young players are looking like potential contributors to winning basketball in the future. One has stood above the rest: Saddiq Bey.

He made waves across the NBA a few weeks ago in making all seven of his 3-pointers in a win at Boston en route to becoming the first Pistons rookie since 1982 to win Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

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Drafted 19th overall in November in what became a three-way trade that sent out Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard and numerous draft picks, the 6-foot-7, 215-pound Bey is one of four Pistons rookies. Entering Wednesday, he was averaging 9.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 21.5 minutes over 29 games (12 starts), and recently assumed the starting role with Blake Griffin out. Most impressive has been his 3-point shooting accuracy and volume, making two 3s out of 5.1 per game (59-for-147, 40.1%). And though he has struggled on 2-pointers (43.3%), he has shown off some post moves, and has given good defensive effort.

How is he faring when compared to the rest of his 2020 rookie class?

This week, Yahoo Sports! slotted Bey fifth in its rookie power rankings.

“Bey became the first rookie in NBA history to go a perfect 7-for-7 from 3-point range in a win over the Boston Celtics earlier this month,” author Krysten Peek wrote. “He is praised for his defense and is one of the best three-and-D guards in this draft class, but it’s his shooting offensively that has been impressive. The Pistons have taken advantage of his size in mismatch situations and he’s shooting close to 50% from the field in February.”

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On’s rookie ladder, Bey is sixth, with their profile noting he has scored double figures in eight consecutive games.

In both rankings, the top three rookies included Tyrese Haliburton (No. 12 pick), LaMelo Ball (No. 3) and Anthony Edwards (No. 1). The Pistons will get a close look at Haliburton on Friday, when the Sacramento Kings visit Little Caesars Arena. It’s early, but you’ll surely be reminded the Pistons chose Killian Hayes with the seventh pick to be their point guard of the future instead of Haliburton. (Hayes is rehabbing a hip injury suffered Jan. 4 after seven games; he’s set to be reevaluated in late March.)

Bey also was recognized by former Memphis Grizzlies front office executive John Hollinger, who put him in the “Tier 2: Picking Up Steam” category in his rookie tiers profile on The Athletic.

“Finding a rotation-caliber forward is one of the most valuable things a team can do in the draft, given the expense of these players in the free-agent market,” Hollinger wrote. “That now seems like a worst-case scenario for Bey, and Detroit got him outside the lottery.”

Isaiah Stewart, the Pistons’ energetic center picked No. 16 in the draft, made Hollinger’s next tier, titled “More or less on track.”

“Stewart’s youth and serviceable production as a rookie offer the promise of him becoming something, but it’s not clear yet exactly what,” Hollinger wrote. “The optimistic take is that his shooting touch seems deft enough to eventually stretch out to the 3-point line, which would help his value proposition considerably.”

Stewart is 1-for-5 from 3-point range this season.

Second-round pick point guard Saben Lee, who’s on a two-way contract and not on the 15-man roster, has shined over the past few days as well.

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All of that warms the insides, but here’s one drawback when thinking big picture: The Pistons still lack a player with clear star potential, and that bears out in a few more recent rankings.

The Pistons were left without any players in The Athletic’s 50 best prospects list (open to first-round picks on rookie-scale contracts and second-rounders still on their first deals), and ranked 19th in the league in the website’s organizational young star potential rankings, with Hayes as their top prospect, followed by Bey.

So, while this season is looking like one of the worst in franchise history record-wise, the Pistons, led by general manager Troy Weaver, should have a chance to pluck a top talent in the 2021 draft — especially if the ping pong balls go their way in the lottery.

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