The Trail Blazers’ 2019-20 season is firmly in the rearview mirror and 2020 NBA Draft is now on the horizon. As of now, the draft is scheduled for November 18. Unlike last year, the Blazers enter the process with two picks at their disposal. Portland currently owns the No. 16 pick in the first round and the No. 46 pick in the second round.
Today’s profile focuses on Villanova forward Saddiq Bey, a prospect that is often linked to the Blazers in first-round mock drafts.
- Height: 6’8”
- Weight: 220
- Wingspan: 6’11”
- Shoots: Right
- Position: F
- Age: 21
- Projected draft range: 10-18
- PTS: 16.1 | Per 40: 19.0
- REB: 4.7 | Per 40: 5.6
- AST: 2.4 | Per 40: 2.8
- STL: 0.8 | Per 40: 0.9
- FG%: 47.7
- 3P%: 45.1
- FT%: 76.9
Bey made the most of his feature role in his second season with Villanova. From overall scoring to efficiency, the North Carolina native put up impressive numbers. For potential NBA suitors, Bey’s blistering 45.1 three-point percentage jumps off the page. Buoyed by his quick release and constant movement off the ball, Bey routinely puts himself in position for high-percentage looks. His rise in efficiency is not by accident. He is an expert at staying busy in an effort to exploit holes in opposing defenses. His off-ball movements are most noticeable when he identifies when the defense is collapsing to the paint and he sneaks into the corner for wide-open looks.
Outside of his scoring, Bey has undertaken tertiary ball handling duties during his two-year run with the Wildcats. In the paint, the 21-year-old forward is an instinctual rebounder, a trait that separates him from the pack when corralling offensive rebounds. Defensively, he has the size, length and basketball IQ that is in demand at the forward position. That combination of strengths should allow him to pick up a wide range of defensive assignments.
Due to Bey’s impressive numbers as a sophomore, you have to look below the surface to identify the weaknesses in his game. The most pressing of those deficiencies is his lack of explosiveness at the point of attack. His average first step was not an issue for him on most nights in college, but it could become a problem when facing premier NBA defenders. On the perimeter, Bey could fall victim to aggressive close outs. Athleticism concerns aside, Bey is a relatively predictable straight-line driver with the ball. Experienced opponents will steer him to the baseline or into backline defenders at the next level.
Featuring Bey in a larger role, the Wildcats opened the season with an 8-2 record. Their only losses came in contests against ranked opponents during that stretch. Individually, Bey closed the final half of the season with a strong run of offensive output. In January, he posted a season-high 33 points in a victory over Georgetown. In that matchup, Bey connected on eight of his 10 attempts from distance.
At the end of the season, Bey was among the finalists for the Wooden Award and he earned First Team All-Big East honors.
Bey’s ready-made skillset makes him an ideal candidate for fringe playoff contenders selecting in the late lottery. Armed with size and shooting efficiency from distance, Bey projects to be an early-career rotational player. The main criticism surrounding Bey is the assumption that he has met, or is near, his ceiling as a player. Judging by the significant jump in his production from his first season to his second, that is understandable. It is also feasible that he could become more efficient in a refined role, instead of the jack-of-all-trades workload that he undertook in college. Regardless of the concerns over his upside, Bey is on a short list of “safe” prospects in the 2020 draft class.
The Blazers enter the offseason with decisions to make at the forward position. Trevor Ariza (non-guaranteed money) and Carmelo Anthony (pending free agent) are not a lock to return to Portland next season. Even if both return, the future of the Blazers’ forward rotation is far from crystal clear. In regards to young talent, Bey does not possess the same athletic upside as Nassir Little. But Bey’s shooting chops and experience in multiple roles does place him on a firmer foundation.
Bey’s potential fit with the Blazers is obvious: he plays at a position of need and has a proven track record of spacing the floor. But Neil Olshey’s record has been far from obvious on draft night. It is possible that Bey and several high-upside prospects will be available when the Blazers are on the clock. If that is the case, it is not a lock that Bey will be the pick for Portland.
Have a draft-related question? Send your draft mailbag questions to Steve Dewald at BEdgeSteve@gmail dot com.