Position: Small forward
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.
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.
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.
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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