Saddiq Bey

2020 NBA Draft: What are the chances that the Sixers take Saddiq Bey?

2020 NBA Draft: What are the chances that the Sixers take Saddiq Bey?

Now that former Villanova star Saddiq Bey answered one question by deciding to stay in the 2020 NBA Draft, it's time for the next question. What are the chances the Sixers draft Bey?

The Sixers have the 22nd pick of the draft, at least for now. That pick belongs to the Thunder and is protected 1-20. If Oklahoma City struggles in Disney World later this summer and drops a couple spots in the standings, its pick won't convey to the Sixers. 

Even if the Sixers hold on to the Thunder's pick, there's also the matter of whether Bey will be available when they're on the clock. He's projected as a top-20 pick in most mock drafts.

So the stars would have to align in order for Bey to wear a Sixers jersey next season. One person close to Bey is holding out hope.

"I'm biased, I would love to see him with the 76ers," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said on Tuesday. "I would love any of our guys to be with the 76ers because I'm a fan of our guys and a fan of the 76ers."

Bey will become the seventh Villanova player drafted in the last four years. The Sixers had an opportunity to take all six of the previous Wildcats over that span but passed, with the exception of one technicality. For about a half hour in 2018, the Sixers had Mikal Bridges, who they took with the 10th pick. Then they traded Bridges to the Suns for Zhaire Smith and a future first-round pick. 

Wright believes Bey is the type of prospect who could entice the Sixers to reverse that trend. 

"You look at a guy like Ben Simmons who is a great point guard but he can play off the ball, too," Wright said. "Saddiq can actually guard a point guard, handle the ball and he can shoot it. So you'd have a guy with Ben Simmons who could guard smaller players but also could shoot the ball. Those characteristics could help any team, and I think it could definitely help the 76ers."

Bey says he'll be happy to play for whichever team drafts him. He continues to work out in his hometown of Washington, D.C., and is eager to get his professional career started. But he stressed that his decision to leave Villanova wasn't easy. 

"I had a lot of factors to keep in mind and I think that's what made it hard for me to make a decision," Bey said. "Playing with my team, going back to school, getting my degree, competing for a national championship. It wasn't just one factor. It was hard on both ends, there were a lot of pros and cons."

Wright understands why Bey's decision was difficult. But the coach agrees that the timing is right for his star player to make the leap to the NBA. 

"He wanted to win a national championship and he knew we had a good team coming back," Wright said. "He wanted to get closer to his degree and he didn't want to leave his teammates. But the information we got back said he will be a first-round pick. He's really unique that he's ready to play in the NBA right now, but he's also really valuable because he has an incredible upside."

If Bey continues to improve at the rate he did during his two years at Villanova, the sky is the limit. He was one of the best players in the country this past season as a sophomore, averaging 16.1 points and shooting 45.1 percent from three-point range. Bey won the Julius Erving Award as the best small forward in college basketball. 

Wright didn't envision Bey becoming this good this soon. 

"We thought by the end of Saddiq's senior year he could be an NBA player," Wright said. "We didn't know if he would be a second-round pick, free agent, first-round pick. But he just continued to improve on the court and off the court he showed a level of intelligence and maturity that is just off the charts.

"At the beginning of his freshman year, he was a defensive player who teams didn't guard. We just wanted him to rebound and defend. By the end of his sophomore year, when we put together a scouting report, whoever the best player was on the other team, he guarded him. And when the game was on the line, the ball was in his hands. We were going to him with the game on the line. That's how far he came in two years. Just incredible development, and I think it's going to continue."

Bey's departure certainly doesn't improve Villanova's outlook for the 2020-2021 season. The Wildcats very likely could have started the year as the No. 1 team in the country if Bey decided to return for his junior season. But even without Bey, they'll still be a top-10 team capable of contending for a national championship.

Seniors Colin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels and sophomores Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore will start next season. Cole Swider, Brandon Slater, and Bryan Antoine are all candidates to fill the fifth starter spot. Wright mentioned Antoine as someone who will have an opportunity to play a bigger role next season. 

Villanova has lost a handful of star players early to the NBA in recent years and managed to survive. Don't expect next season to be any different. 

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Saddiq Bey opens up about participating in protests after death of George Floyd

Saddiq Bey opens up about participating in protests after death of George Floyd

Jay Wright and Saddiq Bey held a video conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss Bey's decision to forgo his final two years of eligibility at Villanova and stay in the 2020 NBA Draft. 

But the conversation included more than just basketball. 

Both Wright and Bey discussed the unrest across the country following George Floyd's death on May 25. Bey has spent the last three months in his hometown of Washington, D.C., and has participated in protests aimed at fighting for racial equality as well as police and criminal justice reform. 

"That event (Floyd's death) hurt me, my family and my community," Bey said. "We go through adversity every year and it's sad that we see that a lot. This was kind of a boiling point, a tipping point for the injustice that's been going on. So personally it hurt, and I know it hurt millions of people across the globe."

The 21-year old Bey, who will likely be a first-round pick in the draft, explained the positive effect that taking part in protests has had on him.

"Just to see the communal bond, it was peaceful, it was a beautiful thing to see," he said. "It's an unfortunate event but I really think it's going to have an impact on the future."

Wright called this one of the most challenging times of his coaching career. He pointed out the initial difficulty of dealing with the impact the coronavirus has had on the world, and to a lesser extent, his basketball program. Now he's engaging in powerful conversations with his players about race relations and social justice. 

"You're talking to a lot of young men who are really hurting," Wright said. "Usually on a team you have one guy who is going through something and you can all rally around him. This is something where you have a bunch of guys on the team and coaches who are really, really hurting. First, we listened. We just listened and tried to be empathetic and let guys know that we love them and we care for them and we felt their pain."

Wright mentioned that the conversations have now shifted toward how to take action.

"We've recently been talking about what we can really do as a team," Wright said. "We're putting together a program where we can educate guys as to who the mayor is, who the town supervisor is, who the chief of police is in their hometowns. We're making sure guys are registered to vote, (talking about) whether certain positions are elected positions or appointed positions, and teaching them how to use their protest and their influence to affect systematic change.

"It's now turned into an educational conversation, where in the beginning it was purely a loving, compassionate conversation."

It's a critical time in our country, and Wright is making sure his players are doing their part to bring about meaningful change. 

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2020 NBA draft profile: Saddiq Bey would be a great fit for the Sixers, but will they have a chance to take him?

2020 NBA draft profile: Saddiq Bey would be a great fit for the Sixers, but will they have a chance to take him?

Saddiq Bey

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 215
School: Villanova

Saddiq Bey went from a fringe first-round selection to a potential lottery pick in the span of about three months. Bey's stock has soared as NBA executives and draft pundits familiarize themselves with tape of his sophomore season at Villanova. 

Earlier this week Bey won the Julius Erving Award, which is presented annually to the best small forward in college basketball. He averaged 16.1 points and shot 45.1 percent from three-point range, leading Villanova to another Big East regular season championship and earning First Team All-Big East honors. 

Bey confirmed this week that he plans to "test the waters" of the NBA pre-draft process. It remains to be seen what that process will consist of given the league's uncertain timeline. Bey added that he wants to keep his options open and hasn't ruled out returning to Villanova for his junior season.

But an objective assessment of the situation reveals that Bey has likely played his last college basketball game. Jay Wright encourages his players to enter the draft if they are projected to be a first-round pick. Bey is expected to be chosen somewhere in the 10-20 range. 

Strengths

Bey is extremely versatile. He often brought the ball up the floor and got Villanova into their offense, excelling in a "point forward" role. He's also deceptively strong and effective posting up smaller defenders. He can shoot from the perimeter, score from mid-range and finish at the basket. There isn't much he can't do offensively. 

That being said, Bey's defensive ability may his greatest attribute. He can guard point guards or power forwards. Wright often put Bey on the opponent's best player — regardless of position — late in games. He has the length and lateral quickness to stay with quicker players and the size and strength to hold his own against more physical opponents. 

Bey also has all the intangibles that are commonly found in draft prospects from Villanova. He's a team-first guy who is accepting of whatever role gives his team the best chance to win. His work ethic is outstanding, as evidenced by the improvement he made between his freshman and sophomore seasons. Bey is still getting better and has a ton of potential on the NBA level. 

Weaknesses

He needs to be more consistent with his offensive production. Bey was held to single-digit scoring games nine times during his sophomore year. There were several games when he just wasn't as involved in the offense as you'd expect him to be. Then again, that may be a product of him being unselfish and willing to take a step back when one of his teammates is clicking offensively.

He's certainly athletic enough to succeed at the pro level, but he's not the type of explosive athlete who is going to consistently break defenders down off the dribble.

Bey's rebounding numbers left a bit to be desired last season. In fact, he averaged fewer rebounds as a sophomore (4.7) than he did as a freshman (5.1), despite playing significantly more minutes this past season.

Fit

Bey would be a tremendous fit for the Sixers. He'd be a perfect complement to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on both ends of the floor. He would get plenty of open looks playing alongside the Sixers' two superstars and would greatly enhance the team's defensive identity. 

He's mature enough coming out of college that he would be ready to contribute immediately. He'd also be willing to play a supporting role and won't get frustrated by a lack of touches on the offensive end. 

The only question is whether Bey will be available when the Sixers select in the first round. They will likely pick in the 21-22 range. The way things have been trending, Bey may be long gone by that point.

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