Detroit Pistons’ Saddiq Bey is more than just ‘3-and-D’ after impressive summer debut

Detroit Free Press

It’s been a whirlwind first NBA season for Saddiq Bey.

He started 53 games and earned first-team all-rookie honors after hitting 175 3-pointers, leading all rookies. He broke numerous franchise records for the Detroit Pistons, and is coming off of a stint in Las Vegas with the U.S. men’s basketball Select Team.

He did it all without a real NBA offseason under his belt, thanks to the pandemic. Sunday marked his summer league debut, and he showed off a more-diverse offensive game compared to his rookie season.

MORE FROM SANKOFA: Here’s the Pistons’ to-do list after Cade Cunningham’s Summer League debut

Bey was largely a catch-and-shoot outside gunner last year. According to Cleaning The Glass, 63% of his total shot attempts came from behind-the-arc, and 77% of all of his shots were assisted. He excelled in that role, but he wasn’t a player who could reliably create his own offense.

Sunday’s loss against the Thunder gave us a glimpse of what he has been working on this summer. Midway through the second quarter, he isolated a defender and drove right before spinning left, jumping off of his left foot and draining a midrange fadeaway. In the fourth, he got another spinning fadeaway jumper to fall.

He also showcased his improved footwork from the perimeter, knocking down a sidestep 3-pointer in the third quarter.

One summer league game isn’t enough to make conclusions about how much his game has evolved. But he has been working to add more off-the-dribble offense to his game, and Sunday was an early showcase of it.

“All summer, every week, every day, my whole career,” Bey said. “Being able to use that and if the opportunity presents itself, being able to create offense. Just trusting in my abilities.”

PUTTING IN THE WORK: How Saddiq Bey can improve after historic rookie season

Bey still has strides to make with the ball in his hands. He had tunnel vision on a few plays on Sunday, forcing his own shot instead of kicking the ball out or finding a cutting teammate.

But assistant coach JD DuBois, who’s running the show in Las Vegas for the Pistons, was pleased with what he saw from Bey. And if his newfound shot creation carries over into next season, it’ll only bode well for the Pistons.

“What I’ve seen from Saddiq is consistent with what he’s been doing the whole last year,” DuBois said. “His approach is elite, how he carries the team in terms of being a leader by example. And he’s continuing to grow. Creating his shot not just off the catch, but sometimes in the pick and roll and sometimes off the dribble. As a whole, I think our group is just getting a feel for each other. Again, first game. We’ll be better next time.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. 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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