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, today, we break down Colorado forward Tyler Bey.
Tyler Bey built an impressive collegiate resume in his three years at the University of Colorado. Following the 2018-19 season, he was named the Most Improved Player in the Pac-12 after demonstrating a lot of growth as an offensive player. In 2019-20, he followed that up by winning the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
Bey also has good measurables as an NBA prospect. He stands at 6’7 with a reported 7-foot wingspan and plays at just under 220 pounds. He added a good amount of bulk and strength the last few years but some of that, perhaps, came naturally as he navigated his age-21 and age-22 seasons.
For a player broadly considered a very good athlete, Bey does not flash the athleticism very often in games. That is not necessarily a negative, however, as he is an incredibly smart, measured and efficient player on both ends of the court. Bey seemingly uses just the needed amount of athletic prowess on any given play to get the job done.
It is hard to project if the faster pace and increased space of the NBA will actually be a better fit for him as compared to the amateur levels. The style of defense the Buffaloes played did allow him to show off his ability to move horizontally.
Colorado asks their bigs to help at the level of ball screens and subsequently recover to their primary assignment. Bey definitely excelled in this area. However, at the next level, he should expect to have to guard on the perimeter against more skilled combo forwards.
Bey used his intelligence and anticipation to create defensive events (48 steals, 36 blocks last season) at a high rate. He consistently knows what is going on around him and recognizes what an opposing offense is trying to execute.
He is so precisely measured at all times that he is willing to help deep into the paint when his man is in the weak side corner, or to threaten passing lines above the free throw line when his guy is on the baseline. Bey was seldom punished at the NCAA level for straying so far from his area of responsibility. However, there is a question as to whether or not Bey will be able to make those type of impact plays as an NBA defender when a half miss-step is so often turned into an easy bucket for the opposing team.
In foundational responsibilities, Bey does all the little things to set himself up for success. He beats his man to a spot on the block and denies him the opportunity to function near the paint. He sees screens coming from 360 degrees and protects himself and his teammates by cutting off the preferred angles of offensive players.
The 22-year-old forward looks much more the part of a weak side rim helper than a staunch interior defender. But, as a college player, Bey made so many plays before they happened —by outright denying the offensive action — that it has been next to impossible to evaluate how much of his athleticism might help him recover back into a play defensively at the next level.
The clearest path Bey has to playing time for an NBA team is to grow into a role as a productive and versatile defender. He may be just mobile and agile enough to hold up defending on ball versus skilled forwards in the league. Away from ball, he should possess the length and horizontal agility to help toward the interior and still get back to challenge shooters on the perimeter.
A lot of the value Bey offered his Colorado teams came in the rebounding department. This may be the area of his statistical performance that is hardest to rely on projecting at the next level, especially when applying a potential change in role.
Something to keep an eye with Bey’s defensive development is that as he added upper body bulk and strength the last few seasons his posture suffered a bit. He became increasingly crouched at the waist instead of sitting (knees bent) in a desired defensive stance.
To make it work offensively in the NBA, he is going to have to commit to a significant amount of development in the area of ball skills. He looks like a functional shooter from a mechanical standpoint, but Bey attempted just 59 three-point attempts in three NCAA seasons. He managed a lot of production at the free throw line, but it is hard to see him replicating that as he moves forward professionally.
It should be expected that opposing teams will make him put the ball on the floor in an NBA setting, and Bey has a very long way to go as a ball handler to be able to do that securely. With that said, his ball-handling questions could just largely be about the opportunity for repetitions — perhaps with time in the G League — to allow him to make progress as a dribbler. The raw hand-eye coordination seems just fine. Outside of somewhat regular chances to operate in the post, Bey was basically never permitted to take his defender off of the dribble in his time in Boulder.
He is unlikely be invited to run many pick and rolls, but Bey will need to demonstrate a basic ability to attack close out defenders flying at him as to chase him off of the three-point line. To date, he has played with a high and loose dribble that would be immensely problematic at the professional level.
Bey will also need to show more acumen as a passer. Like so many other areas of play, he was simply not asked to do much of it as a collegiate player. He did double his modest assist numbers from his sophomore to his junior season while only turning the ball over four additional times, which is encouraging.
In an overall sense, Bey could be an intriguing project for an NBA organization that really believes in its player development operation. Bey has largely been projected to be a second-round pick, though some more optimistic observers place him in the mix as a late first-round consideration. Still, a modified draft process may bring teams to evaluate him as a more known quantity, especially given that teams don’t have a draft combine or in-market workouts to take advantage of in the process.
It could turn out that Bey is in the perfect draft class to make the most of his opportunity as an intriguing, 22-year-old prospect.