In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, in this edition, we examine Villanova forward Saddiq Bey.
The Villanova Wildcats are presently at the top of the college basketball world. With two championships in the past four NCAA Tournaments, Villanova has become a premier destination for recruits seeking an elite player development program. Their system that promotes moving without the ball, sharing the scoring opportunities, and flexibility in defensive schemes has proven to be a winning combination.
The list of draft picks cultivated by Jay Wright’s program in the past three drafts is numerous: Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, Donte DiVicenzo, Eric Paschall and recent Hawks draft pick Omari Spellman. Up next to carve his role in the NBA is Saddiq Bey, thought to be a clean fit at the next level. But just how seamless is his skillset when there are professional athletes with which to contend?
Bey proved to be solidly complementary over two seasons in Philadelphia, recording per-36 averages of 13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. Still, going forward his spot up shooting will be the asset that earns him dollars, as he proved he can hit shots efficiently from around the three point line. With a shooting slash of 52.2/41.8/72.8 from two, three and the free throw line respectively over his college career, Bey has a chance to stroke the ball at a high level as a professional.
Bey has the desired build and length for NBA play at 6’8” and 216 pounds. This plus a 6’11” wingspan allows him to play a variety of positions as a forward or even a big wing. Bey has good strength and balance as well, allowing for some decent post play and post up defense against certain favorable matchups.
Still, the aspect that draws the wandering eyes of NBA scouts is his outside shot. Bey is an elite shooter from deep, with one easy motion on his windup and release and a lot of lift from his lower body. Though his windup starts at around chest-level, his long motion still results in a short time to release.
His ability to shoot off the catch and space the floor is something that every NBA team desires. With the ability to play the four while stretching the floor, he can drag big men out of the paint to cover a lethal shooter from deep. On 123 catch-and-shoot opportunities this season, he recorded a 1.46 PPP — points per possession according to Synergy. His lightning quick release and undying confidence to let shots fly will scare defenses into bend their scheme toward the former Villanova Wildcat.
Even when he doesn’t catch a pass cleanly — or is fed an-off target dish — Bey can relocate off the dribble and convert open opportunities. This skill rings true when aggressive rotating defenders leave their feet in an effort to block the shot.
Villanova plays with a lot of “5-out” offensive sets where Bey, as a forward, can look for openings around the arc. A similar system in the NBA, like the current Houston Rockets or the 2014-15 Hawks, would unlock this ability to frighten defenses into extending this positioning out to over 22 feet away from the basket.
Bey finishes at the rim well, both as a cutter in selective opportunities and in opportunities to get out in the open court and throw down dunks. He logged a 1.38 PPP in 52 transition opportunities as a sophomore. Although he won’t ever have the ball in his hands for long stretches going forward, Bey takes care of the ball with a good 1.6 AST/TO ratio. He additionally has enough vision to move the ball around the arc and occasionally find cutters.
The defensive versatility for Bey is another key point going forward. He can defend multiple positions, possibly 1 through 5 for some stretches, and operate well within a switch-heavy scheme. He defends well near the perimeter and in the interior, even providing resistance at the rim at times, despite the low block rate.
As a defender in isolation possessions, he only surrendered 0.56 points per possession, placing him in the 76th percentile in this class. Bey can defend multiple positions even on the same possessions, ranging from the lane to the arc and using his length to harass a variety of ball handlers.
Bey has great lower body strength to prevent being posted up by most players. When locked in, he can frustrate opponents during back-to-the-basket attempts and make them pick up their dribble in suboptimal spots. With his solid lower base, he can hold his ground as well as anyone his size in this class.
Bey’s game sets him up well to fit into any scheme, either as a more tradition low usage shooting wing or even as a matchup-defying forward who can fire from three and guard many positions.
Bey is not a creator by any stretch of the imagination, and won’t play role going forward. He can be an awkward dribbler at times, and sometimes meanders toward the basket into a double team without an escape plan. He doesn’t profile as an isolation player or slasher on the offensive end, and therefore has to demonstrate mastery in his spot up shooting ability to be a major factor.
Bey doesn’t shoot from the mid range well, as indicated from the shot chart above. Although shots from that area are becoming rarer and rarer, this allows opponents to run Bey off his spot without a large threat of him stepping in to hit shots efficiently from 15 feet and out.
A bit disappointing of a rebounder for his size, Bey’s desire to be physical in the paint can wane. Some of this can be explained away by the fact that the Wildcats share these opportunities to rebound as a team, but occasionally Bey’s fight down low will disappear. Similarly, he’s a spotty screener who will, on occasion, look to pop for an open shot before securing the pick.
Although Bey demonstrates flashes of high level skill with the ball, his passing and dribbling are not upper echelon, as he logged just over two assists per 36 minutes. He dribbles from a high stance with the ball and doesn’t bend corners well, forcing him to pick up dribbles and make easy outlet passes over a more difficult passes into traffic.
While he contests shots at the rim at a high level, his mark of 0.41 blocks per 36 minutes is not an amazing mark. He can also leave his feet prematurely when contesting shots.
Though his game is fairly well-rounded, there are some playmaking setbacks that hamper his ability to become a star at the next level. Still, Bey is the ultimate Swiss Army knife in this class with an ability to elevate the play of most teams, if not every team, in the NBA.
Possible fit with the Hawks
Bey would be best used in a four-out or five-out offensive scheme, where he can run off of high screens and pin downs and fire from deep. He fits in as either a 3-and-D wing or even a stretch forward. If you squint, you can see a Robert Covington copy gone slightly astray or maybe even a stiffer Jae Crowder.
He presents as a possible trade down candidate for the Hawks, with a projected late lottery landing spot in this draft. While I don’t expect this with any level of assurance, anything is possible in this uncertain offseason.