Villanova has had no shortage of impactful NBA-level players over the last few years, from Donovan Mitchell’s buddy and Golden State forward Eric Paschall to Josh Hart, Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Omari Spellman, and Donte DiVincenzo. This year looks to be no different, with Villanova forward Saddiq Bey declaring for the draft. Bey (not related to Colorado forward Tyler Bey) is an all-around offensive threat that has the opportunity to shine as a prototypical modern 3-and-D forward. Though not heavily recruited going into college, he received the Julius Erving award for the top men’s collegiate power forward in 2020.
Per game: 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, 1.5 turnovers, 47.7/45.1/76.9 shooting splits
Advanced: 60.8% True Shooting, 8.1 box plus-minus (6.2 offensive, 1.9 defensive), .186 win shares per 40
Physical: 21 years old (turns 22 next April), 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan, 216 pounds
Bey’s greatest strength is his immediate ability to contribute on the offensive end. He rates very highly in nearly every type of offensive play, scoring 1.099 points per possession (PPP), 96th percentile in the NCAA. His amazing shooting numbers – 45.1 percent from deep on 5.6 attempts – are fantastic, averaging 1.463 PPP on catch and shoot attempts this past season, good enough for 98th percentile. In the video above, you can see great movement off of screens and off-ball to get into good positioning, and consistent (if a bit strange-looking) form when open and when free. Even if his free throw percentage would indicate a drop in accuracy when translating to the NBA, look for him to be an excellent contributor.
Another interesting nuance of Bey is his ball handling skills. Despite the low assist numbers, when Villanova used him in the pick and roll, Bey yielded a PPP of 0.939, which 88th percentile in the NCAA. His use of strength when attacking the rim off of a pick is evident, scoring 1.476 PPP (96th percentile), and he even averaged 1 PPP on post ups (86th percentile). With low turnovers despite his relatively high usage in all sorts of offense, Bey is a potent offensive threat.
Bey is surprisingly good at shuffling his feet and staying in front of ball handlers to alter shots. Because of this, Villanova used him on the perimeter, having him sometimes switch onto ball-handling guards, where he allowed 0.56 points per isolation possession (76th percentile). His rebounding (4.7 rpg) suffered as a result, but his motor and more defined role in the NBA should allow him to become at least a positionally-average level rebounder.
My main critique of Bey is that he doesn’t look particularly fluid or explosive, which is most evident on the defensive end. His stats tell a disappointing story, averaging only 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks per game–disappointing given his size and length. While a good team defensive player, he had a hard time fighting through picks and defending the pick and roll.
It’s clear that Bey has amazing percentages from three and at the rim, but shocking is how inefficient he is at two-point jump shots. As his shot also looks to have a bit of an unorthodox hitch, with a sometimes excessive dip after catching the ball, and a left-sided release point, in situations where he is asked to create off the dribble and gets stymied before getting to the rim, Bey looks like he really struggles. This can be largely remedied at the NBA level, where he won’t be asked to create as much.
Saddiq Bey reminds me a bit of Joe Ingles or Bojan Bogdanovic mixed with Paul Millsap – maybe similar to TJ Warren or the Morris brothers. He has that secondary ball handling feel combined with the shooting stroke of the splash uncles (and Jingles’ weird-looking shot), combined with the willingness to bang down low and use his strength like Paul. However, his rebounding is currently more similar to Bojan, and his development as a larger 3-and-D wing will depend on his ability to gain strength and bulk up (weighing only 216 pounds). But Bey could definitely contribute shooting off the bench while developing under the tutelage of some of the best shooting, ballhandling forwards in the league. His floor is very high, while his ceiling still has some elevation to it, which is why he’s currently projected as a mid-first round pick. If he’s still available at 23, the Jazz should definitely look to snatch him up.