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Suns 2020 Draft Spotlight: Saddiq Bey brings the shooting

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Saddiq Bey checks a lot of the boxes that James Jones and company have made it clear they prioritize.

Villanova v DePaul Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The last time the Suns drafted a Villanova wing with the 10th overall pick it worked out quite well with Mikal Bridges.

While Saddiq Bey is nowhere near the prospect Mikal was, there are certainly some qualities that could draw the attention of James Jones and company to seriously consider the Nova product whether it’s with the 10th pick, or if they decide to trade back into the late lottery or mid-1st round.

10th pick previews: Killian Hayes, Devin Vassell, Kira Lewis Jr., Isaac Okoro, Patrick Williams, Tyrese Haliburton, Obi Toppin

Trade back candidate previews: Tyrese Maxey, Desmond Bane, Tyrell Terry, Ty-Shon Alexander


General Background

  • Position: Wing/Forward
  • Height: 6’8”
  • Wingspan: 6’11”
  • Age: 21 years old on draft day
  • Team: Villanova
  • Role: High IQ floor-spacing wing

Mock Draft Range

Here is where Saddiq Bey has been mocked around the basketball world.

  • ESPN: 12th
  • The Ringer: 16th
  • Bleacher Report: 13th
  • Tankathon: 13th
  • NBA Draft Net: 19th
  • Sports Illustrated: 14th
  • CBS: 15th

As you can see, his projected range is right in the late lottery to mid-1st round, just outside of the Suns wheelhouse. It wouldn’t be a major shock if they “reached” for him at 10 given how last year’s draft shook out and how flat the talent is in this class.


Offense

Strengths: Shooting. Tertiary Playmaking. High feel/IQ.

Weaknesses: Lack of explosiveness. Does not create separation. Handle needs to tighten.

Bey’s ability to space the floor at an elite level should not be overlooked, as he shot a pristine 45.1% from three point land in his sophomore year at Villanova.

There are certainly some playmaking flashes that are encouraging for his position. He’ll never be a secondary creator or anything outlandish when it comes to creating for others, but his ability to play out of the pick and roll and operate at the top of the key, actively searching for teammates is very encouraging as a tertiary playmaker. In the Suns offense in particular, he’d likely excel with how vital ball-movement is towards their team success (led NBA in assists per game).

I do worry about his inability to create separation, and he rarely beats his defenders off the dribble which really limits his offensive upside. The poor free throw rate (24.8%) backs those concerns and displays how rarely he’s able to attack off the dribble.


Defense

Strengths: Strength. Awareness/IQ. Size.

Weaknesses: Closing speed. Point of attack defense. Lateral movement.

Many are calling Bey a “3&D” wing, which is a bit dangerous because I do not believe he has as much versatility on this end as advertised. His lateral movement isn’t great, and he’s not an explosive athlete to combat those issues either. He relies on his strength, anticipation and length to make plays on this side of the floor which can only get you so far in the NBA.

While I do not foresee him being a defensive hound, he should be a mostly neutral defender with his strength and high feel on this side of the ball to offset some of the physical deterrents that limit him. He’s someone that will likely guard 4’s and bigger wings, possibly even small-ball 5’s, but when it comes to sticking with quicker wings and guards I do not envision him being all that “switchable” on the perimeter.

The defensive playmaking also left a lot to be desired for someone his size/length at the college level as a sophomore. The 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks per game are far from encouraging for a 6’8” wing with a nearly 7-foot wingspan at the college level.


Fit in Phoenix

Even though I’m on the lower-end of the Bey-to-Phoenix train (with the 10th pick), I do think that this potential connection makes sense. There are many reasons to believe he will be a productive role player in the league for a long time, but when looking at who will be available 10th overall, in most cases I think it would be a bit of a reach.

His offensive versatility is intriguing with his ability to spread the floor and create for others at times, making him an ideal Monty Williams type of player. Defensively I think he’d benefit playing alongside such a quick core of lateral movers such as Bridges, Oubre, and Ayton (for his size) to mask some of those potential issues on defense. I believe in his ability to guard most power forwards and large wings, though he will need to stay in shape and really work on improving his lateral movement in order to become a reliable starter in the NBA.

Similar to many prospects I’ve broken down in the past, he’s a player that makes a lot more sense if Phoenix decides to move down in the draft. I’m torn on what position he’ll primarily play, but have come to the conclusion that he’s essentially a 3/4 that can guard bigger wings or forwards and may struggle to keep up with quicker wings or smaller guards, thus limiting his defensive upside. His selflessness, high-level shooting, and tremendous feel for the game makes him a strong candidate that fits the James Jones mold.