Detroit — As the Pistons work to integrate their newest pieces, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jaden Ivey, into their starting lineup, they’re working to make sure that their proven scoring threats are getting their share too.
Saddiq Bey is the Pistons’ fourth-leading scorer, and he’s flown under the radar this season due to the defensive attention attracted by Cade Cunningham, Ivey and Bogdanovic.
That’s part of the plan in assembling more talent — keeping defenses honest and spread thin.
Through five games, Bey is averaging 15.4 points and six rebounds while shooting 36% from the 3-point line. For comparison, Bey averaged 8.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 43.2 percent on 3-pointers through the first five games of his rookie season in 2020-21, and 17.2 points, 9 rebounds and 27.6% from beyond the arc in the first five games last season.
Bey’s numbers might be slightly down from last season in this small sample size, but the stat sheet doesn’t factor in Bogdanovic’s team-high 23.2 points and newcomer Ivey’s 16 points per game. The Pistons’ offense is evolving, so there may be nights like Detroit’s opening game against Orlando and their road loss to Washington when Bey only takes five shots.
On most occasions, Bey is often the beneficiary of open looks on corner 3-pointers when Ivey and Bogdanovic draw multiple defenders inside the paint. When the Pistons weren’t getting much offensive production in their blowout loss against the Knicks, Bey remained aggressive and finished with a season-high 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field.
Bey is one of the Pistons’ most durable players. He was one of two players in the NBA last season to start all 82 games. On most nights, he remains consistent from the perimeter, and if defenders try to run him off the 3-point line, he’s emphasized putting the ball on the floor and attacking the paint. This was the case during the final minute of Detroit’s loss to Atlanta on Wednesday, when he passed on a 3-pointer and drove to the basket, drawing a foul on John Collins.
Bey is 20-of-21 on free-throw attempts this season when he stepped to the line, but he had two uncharacteristic misses that would’ve brought Detroit within one point. He finished with 17 points and four rebounds and was the team’s third-scoring option behind the offensive showcase of Bogdanovic (33 points) and Cunningham (26 points).
“He’s one of our best free-throw shooters,” coach Dwane Casey said after the game. “Just understanding moments and making plays in those moments. I’ll take Saddiq at the line nine out of 10 times in those situations, because he’s going to make them, but tonight wasn’t his night.”
Despite Wednesday’s loss, the team’s fourth consecutive, Casey told his team that it was a step in the right direction because there was a competitive effort from the moment the ball was tipped.
“We’ll take that, because that type of game, you’re going to win a lot of those games if you compete at that level. There’s no consolation prize or participation prizes in the NBA, but like I said before the game, we’re building.”
Rookie Jaden Ivey did not play against the Hawks on Wednesday due to a non-Covid illness. Despite his absence, Detroit remained competitive until the game’s waning seconds.
Casey said during his postgame press conference that Ivey had a “big-time” fever and the medical staff sent him home, but Ivey should be available for Friday’s rematch against the Hawks.
“He went through shootaround with a mask and everything,” Casey said. “But they just didn’t feel like it was safe for him to be around other players. Hopefully, he’s OK. We need him back. Hopefully, he’s ready to go on Friday.”
National Early Vote Day
The Pistons have partnered with MTV to celebrate “National Vote Early Day” on Friday at Little Caesars Arena before tipoff against the Atlanta Hawks.
The public event, which highlights the importance of voting early, will be held from 4:30 p.m. until the game begins at 7. Fans will have an opportunity to visit local civic-engagement groups in the Little Caesars Plaza. Live music, food and beverage vendors will be on-site as well.
Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley will perform at halftime.
Hawks at Pistons
Tipoff: 7 Friday, Little Caesars Arena
Outlook: The Pistons (1-4) are looking to break a four-game skid, in a rematch against the Hawks on Friday. The team will debut their Classic teal uniforms in the first of 11 “Teal Takeover” games at Little Caesars Arena this season. Hawks point guard Trae Young scored 35 points in Wednesday’s game.