This time last year, Saddiq Bey was largely limited to working out in high school gyms to prepare for the draft. Because of the pandemic, he had a tough time accessing gyms with NBA-length 3-point lines.
A lot has changed since then. Bey made the NBA All-Rookie first team with the Detroit Pistons after a historic season. He averaged 12.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 38% from 3 and starting 53 games. He’s spent most of the offseason in Detroit, working out with his fellow rookie class at the team’s practice facility.
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That’s not the only gym he has played at this summer. Bey and Isaiah Stewart, an All-Rookie second team selection, were both named to the USA Basketball Select Team last week. They’re training with Jerami Grant and the rest of the national team at their Las Vegas training camp this week.
It’s a unique opportunity, as just 11 other players made the Select Team. It’s one that Bey said he didn’t expect to get.
But he’s making the most of it. Bey’s goal this offseason is to round out his entire game, and he’ll get to do it against the best players in the world.
“It was a surprise,” Bey said Tuesday. “It’s my first time being a part of a USA event. It’s a blessing and it’s an honor. Once I found out I was, I was ecstatic about the opportunity. Continuing to work and just trying to be the best I can and to help the main team get the gold.
“It’s very beneficial to play with different guys, in maybe a different role, you never know, it’s still early,” he said. “Just being able to adapt in other systems and other sets and just learn from different people. It’s a lot of wisdom here, a lot of experience here. I think it’s going to be very beneficial to be able to learn from some of the best, for sure.”
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is leading the Select Team and was complementary of the Pistons and both rookies while addressing the media Tuesday.
“They’re in a good program, particularly for development under coach (Dwane) Casey,” he said. “We saw it firsthand from where they were at the beginning of the year to who they were at the end. It’s a big credit to them and how committed they are to their development, their improvement, to accepting coaching. It’s clear it didn’t just happen. There was a lot of working behind the scenes to have that kind of improvement. Both of them have very promising futures.”
Bey and Stewart will practice with and against some of the NBA’s biggest stars — a list that includes Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Jason Tatum and the Pistons’ own Grant, who is coming off of a breakout season.
“You can’t put an analytic or necessarily quantify specifically how it helps a young player’s confidence,” Spoelstra said. “Just being around great players and seeing their process and their attention to detail, the competitiveness, I think that will open a lot of eyes of the select group when they see and are able to compete against the main team.
“You’re talking about the best players in the world, but you’re also talking about the best minds, the most disciplined players, the hardest-working players, the players that have the highest attention spans, the highest IQs, all of that. The professionalism, the reliability, these are valuable examples for young players to see, particularly at this stage when they’re 20, 21 years old.”
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