NBA-level basketball players don’t always come from a lineage of successful athletes, but it does not hurt your chances to inherit strong genes. Saddiq Bey’s mother was the MVP of the UNC-Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team for the 1997-98 season, and has always been a positive force in his life. Drewana Bey is an educator; she instilled a strong work ethic and a positive attitude in her son, and those attributes have aided Bey in his quest to overcome modest expectations while blossoming into a lottery-pick hopeful for the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.
Following Villanova’s 2018 NCAA national title and the subsequent early departures of Dante DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman, Head Coach Jay Wright was looking for talent to add on his roster. Wright had lightly recruited Bey, but rerouted his efforts after the Maryland native signed with NC State. Months later, the NCAA launched an investigation at NC State which allowed Bey to be released from his National Letter of Intent and choose another university. Due to the circumstances, Wright and Villanova re-entered the picture and landed the top-200 recruit.
As an incoming freshman, Bey joined a four-man recruiting class, which included Jahvon Quinerly, Cole Swinder, and Brandon Slater. All three were higher rated prospects than Bey by the national pundits and recruiting websites. Yet, after two years in college, it’s safe to declare that Bey has had the most successful career and is the only current draftable player of the original recruiting cohort.
Throughout this report, I will outline the assets and flaws in Bey’s overall profile. I will shed light on the qualities which allowed the Villanova product to overcome expectations and climb his way onto NBA draft boards into the first-round discussion of the 2020 NBA Draft.
|Birthday:||April 9, 1999||Nationality:||United States|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
- An overall excellent half-court offensive efficiency profile, averaging 1.09 PPP and ranking at the 96th percentile this season
- Elite spot up shooter (1.31 PPP, 98th percentile)
- Elite 3-point shooter (45.1 percent, 1.33 PPP, 96th percentile)
- Above-average post up player (1.00 PPP, 86th percentile)
- Above-average pick-and-roll handler (0.93 PPP, 88th percentile)
- Above-average overall defender (0.77 PPP, 69th percentile)
- Terrific size for wing position (6’8, 220)
- High-end transition profile (1.3 PPP, 93rd percentile)
- Versatile defensive ability to guard multiple positions
- Instinctual feel for the game on both ends
- Slightly below-average shooter off the dribble, averaging 0.70 PPP (39th percentile) this season
- Needs to improve as a free-throw shooter (72.8 percent for his college career)
- Below-average pick-and-roll defender (allows 0.92 PPP, 17th percentile)
- Low total-rebound percentage (8 percent)
- Lacks vertical explosiveness and has average quick-twitch burst
- Concerns over his lateral quickness
There are some notable examples of second-year college draftees with massive jumps of production between their freshman and sophomore years having success in the NBA: P.J. Washington, Donovan Mitchell, Domantas Sabonis, and Kawhi Leonard are all recent examples. Of course, every prospect’s path is unique, and this isn’t clear evidence that Bey will succeed at the next level.
The chart below illustrates the raw statistical development that Bey achieved. It’s particularly impressive to note his leap in 3-point percentage. The 21-year-old shot a higher percentage (45.1%) on increased volume (5.6 attempts per game) compared to his freshman year. Despite the bad habit of bringing the ball down after the catch, he possesses a quick release. Bey’s size and high follow-through makes it taxing on opponents to effectively contest his shot. Looking ahead to the NBA level, facing more athletic competition, part of his development should include cleaning up the pre-shot load to allow a more rapid uncork of his deadly jumper.
|Freshman Season||Sophomore Season|
|Points per game||8.2||16.1|
|Rebounds per game||5.1||4.7|
|Assists per game||1.2||2.4|
Bey is an elite shooter by any measure, 26.7 percent of his offensive diet is spot-up jumpers; this season the massive wing averaged 1.31 points per possession (98th percentile) on those attempts. To offer further support, on 3-point attempts Bey scored 1.33 PPP (96th percentile). NBA teams searching for floor spacing forwards, who can create room around their star playmakers, will be hard pressed to find a more economical shooter.
Bey also possesses a valuable ability to connect offense. The forward adeptly moved the basketball for Wright’s system and created opportunities for his teammates in direct and indirect ways. The sophomore averaged 2.4 assists, and consistently made correct reads in the half-court offense. The lost art of a post feed or an extra pass which forces the defense into an uncomfortable position are routine plays for Bey. He plays with a deliberate pace, always under control while surveying the floor. Shot making is the most apparent way the sharpshooter affects offense, but a deeper evaluation reveals that his passing ability subtly enhanced Villanova’s efficiency. Furthermore, 14.6 percent of his offensive diet was in pick- and-roll action, and Bey produced 0.93 PPP (88th percentile) inr those situations. These analytical measurables point to his innate offensive feel and the ability to make coherent decisions with the ball while diagnosing defensive schemes.
In the NCAA, six-foot-eight wings like Bey are routinely guarded by smaller defenders, and he exposed them with his mature post-up toolkit. The turnaround jumper, the up-and-under move, and the back-down baby hook are all part of his arsenal. Scoring 1.00 PPP (88th percentile) on the block is another productive facet of the subject’s offensive game.
There are holes in Bey’s offensive profile that will require improvement. Being a great perimeter shooter, his 76.9% from the free-throw line leaves something to be desired. There is no reason that he shouldn’t be above 80% at the charity strip. Additionally, the Villanova wing effectively utilizes change of speed, but is not an explosive driver. As a creator, Bey does not blow by opponents, and struggles to create separation. Bey is much more productive in the flow of offensive motion than he is at the point of attack, evidenced by his slightly below-average isolation scoring numbers at 0.68 PPP (36th percentile). As a youngster in the NBA, he will likely not be asked to create in isolation often, but the lack of burst could limit his ultimate offensive ceiling.
Overall, when considering the range of Bey’s strengths and flaws, I believe that he will walk into the NBA as a contributor. His size, coupled with his offensive feel, elite shooting, and mature decision-making, equates to one of the top offensive skill sets in this draft class.
Defensively, Bey is a fascinating case study. It’s no secret that Bey embodies an increasingly indispensable archetype for the NBA. His 6-foot-8 frame projects for realistically guarding a significant percentage of point guards to power forwards (1-4) at the NBA level, but there is some downside on this end of the floor to examine as well.
Due to Bey’s lack of burst, it’s fair to offer lateral quickness as a criticism of his defensive prowess. Overall mobility is a facet of his physical profile which needs improvement. Yet, the All-Big East standout has proven his worth defensively against some of the toughest assignments in college basketball. Wright trusted and assigned Bey to the likes of Devon Dotson, Markus Howard, and Myles Powell, and Bey held his own at every challenge. His ability to use length, size, and verticality around the rim when recovering to challenge shot attempts is impressive and useful.
The concerns regarding his ability to slide laterally and defend at the next level are valid, to a degree. Bey must develop as a pick-and-roll defender. He allowed 0.92 PPP off this action this season, which was below average, and considering the frequency of the pick-and-roll usage in the NBA, this could be an issue. Additionally, Bey does not rebound at the rate that you would expect from an oversized swingman; finishing 38th in the Big East for total-rebound percentage (8%) is not particularly remarkable, and his overall lack of quick-twitch explosiveness contributes to this shortcoming.
It’s worth mentioning that what Bey lacks in physical athleticism, he makes up for in basketball intelligence, a desire to defend, and a dogged competitiveness. It’s not uncommon to see Bey dive on the floor for a loose ball or take a charge, and he rarely misses a box-out assignment. Villanova has a track record of producing these qualities because Wright accepts nothing less.
When contemplating all the variables, Bey has qualities which make him a unique asset. As we are taught in basic economics, due to supply and demand, rare assets possess high value. The youngster can conceivably offer terrific “switch-ability” for an increasingly position-less NBA. He brings elite top-end shooting and can seamlessly integrate into an offense with his instinctive feel for the game. There are no flawless prospects in this draft, including Bey, but the evidence available and the macro NBA environment suggests that he is a valuable commodity, and in my opinion, is a top-15 talent in this draft class.
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.