Film Don’t Lie: Saddiq Bey trusts his process

Detroit Bad Boys

As the losses start to pile up for the Detroit Pistons, our focus begins to shift away from team success and toward individual improvements from the young core. After every game, the fan base seeks answers to some common questions.

Will Cade Cunningham find his 3-point shooting form? Has Killian Hayes finally found his offensive confidence? How is Isaiah Stewart progressing with his more perimeter-oriented offensive role?

For third-year forward Saddiq Bey, the questions were mostly offensive ones but revolved around his play near the rim. Yes, his 3-point shot remains inconsistent as he is down in the low 30s this season after shooting 38% as a rookie and 35% last season.

Where Bey has seemed to show tremendous growth this season is attacking and finishing at the rim. Although, in complete transparency, Cerebro’s around-the-rim metric has him right around the same he has been throughout his young NBA career.

  • 2018-19 – 67 (Freshman at Villanova)
  • 2019-20 – 64 (Sophomore at Villanova)
  • 2020-21 – 58 (Rookie)
  • 2021-22 – 63
  • 2022 -23 – 59 (14 Games)

You would expect a much higher score while in college so the slight drop when entering the NBA is not surprising.

The process (lowercase-p not capital-P) is often talked about with a player like Bey, and he seems to be getting more and more comfortable with his.

When open, the process dictates he catch and shoot without hesitation. Early in the season, we saw Bey take far too many shot fake, sidestep 3-pointers that ended up being tougher than needed.

Since then, we have seen Bey stick to his process by either taking those shot attempts or shot faking and attacking the basket. In addition, he seems to have found a confidence and comfort in finishing we did not see in his first two seasons.

The former Villanova product has made great strides early this season in willingness and ability to attack closeouts. There are still times where he hesitates a little too long, allowing the defense to lock in, but catch and drives have been his most used play type, according to inSTAT.

Even when Bey does take a little too long to attack the closeout he still has a jab step and/or rip through at his disposal that he is comfortable utilizing. The shot fake, jab step, and rip through all combine to give the third year wing-forward everything he needs to leverage his perimeter gravity into driving opportunities.

Bey also seems to have found his way of getting to the free-throw line in his third season. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound Bey will, at times, bully his way to the rim but seems to have a newfound patience when getting to the lane and getting defenders off their feet to draw fouls. He has increased his free-throw attempts per game by almost two through the early part of the season. A major area of improvement for this Detroit Pistons team overall.

There are still plenty of areas for growth for Bey when attacking the basket. The aforementioned strength and patience is great but at times he could simply use a more diverse and finesse finishing package.

He has always been comfortable going to the reverse, almost to a fault where teams would play him for it, but adding the extended and scoop shot finishes would be a huge for his continued development.

It would also be nice to see Bey leverage his 3-point shooting gravity in another play type, coming off screens. Teams should be chasing Bey over the top of these, if not he should stop and knock down a shot, which again opens up driving lanes for him to attack.

The play type that Bey continues to show limitation and has not shown much success or promise that should be mentioned is in true isolation. Bey does not possess the wiggle, explosiveness, or ball handling creativity to create real opportunities when not attacking an unsettled defense or closeout. This is not a major negative for his ultimate role with the Pistons but is definitely worth noting.

There are definite concerns about Bey’s 3-point shooting with the fanbase and maybe rightfully so. There tends to be some year to year variance for NBA players in this statistic and we may just be seeing one of those down years from Bey. Then again, we are just 15 games into the season and we could see that percentage end the season in the mid to upper 30s.

With that said, the gravity and respect from defenses is still there and that has allowed him to showcase more of his ability to attack the rim so far this season. This has been a tremendous improvement for Bey and a scoring package that includes 2-levels of ability would serve Bey in his ultimate role with this organization, which could be a 6th man bucket getter.

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