If the New York Knicks miss out on the top prospects at the 2020 NBA Draft, Saddiq Bey could be a steal of a selection for Leon Rose.
The New York Knicks will enter the 2020 NBA Draft with the same issue they’ve faced over the better part of the past 20 years. There’s talent to be excited about on the current roster, but the players who thrive as the glue to the loose parts aren’t exactly easy to identify.
Thankfully for the Knicks, there’s a player who could be the type of glue guy that gives structure to the current formation: Saddiq Bey.
Bey has spent the past two seasons playing a critical role for the Villanova Wildcats. He was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team in 2018-19, and made the leap to the All-Big East First Team during his sophomore campaign.
Bey was also the recipient of the Julius Erving Award, which goes to the top small forward during a college basketball season.
As Bey prepares for the next chapter of his basketball career, however, it may be at power forward that he finds his home. In an era where small-ball is emphasized and spacing is a priority, Bey has the tools to thrive as a contemporary 4.
Given the need for improvement at both forward spots, however, the Knicks could be the team with the type of flexibility that helps Bey thrive in the NBA.
Bey stands at 6’8″ and 216 pounds with a 6’11” wingspan. That gives him the physical ability to match up against multiple positions defensively, which is an appealing truth given New York’s shortcomings on that end of the floor.
What makes Bey even more appealing is the fact that he has the competitive nature to actually be the defender that his upside suggests he could become.
If Bey proves to be a high-level defender at the next level, he’d be an ideal fit for a Knicks team that should be looking to go back to its roots. Even if he’s average on that end of the floor, however, he could still be a player of immense value.
Saddiq Bey would provide the Knicks with much-needed shooting
That’s due in large part to the fact that Bey is one of the best shooters in the 2020 NBA Draft—as well as one of its most improved players.
Bey finished the 2018-19 season with 49 three-point field goals made on 37.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. That’s an impressive level of efficiency when one considers the fact that it was his first experience against such a high level of competition.
In 2019-20, Bey took that proficiency to an even higher level with 79 three-point field goals made in five fewer appearances—on 45.1 percent shooting.
That combination of volume–2.5 conversions per game, 3.0 per 40 minutes—and efficiency is quite alluring. Whether Bey plays out of the 3-spot or the 4 in the NBA, the ability to knock down outside shots on a consistent basis would be a game-changer for the Knicks.
New York enters the bubble-extended season ranking dead last in three-point field goals made and 27th in three-point field goal percentage.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Bey’s shooting isn’t just the rate with which he converts, but how drastic his improvement has actually been. He improved his three-point field goal percentage by 7.7 percent between 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Bey also increased his free throw percentage from 64.4 percent to 76.9 percent—a difference of 12.5 percent in just two season’s time.
One interpretation may be that it’s unclear which version of Bey is the real one for the Knicks to consider. Another, however, would be that Bey’s revered work ethic is being placed on full display with how drastically he improved from one season to the next.
Whether that’s optimistic or realistic, it’s a compelling reason to take a chance on Bey as a player who could be the glue to the Knicks’ current core.
Place Bey at the 3 and New York would have a combination of wings whose primary strengths fit well together. RJ Barrett would be able to attack the basket while playing alongside a small forward who can space the floor.
That not only creates drive and kick opportunities, but would make it easier for Barrett to get to the rim—or the free throw line.
Place Bey at the 4 and New York would have a combination of interior players whose primary strengths, once again, fit well together. Mitchell Robinson would continue to thrive as an elite offensive rebounder, this time operating alongside a power forward who can actually stretch the floor.
That not only creates second chances for the offense, but opportunities for penetrating guards to send the ball out to the corner for an efficient shot.
Defensively, Bey would fit the 4 in that he can work the perimeter and the pick and roll while Robinson defends the paint. He’d be a nice fit at small forward in that he has the length to contest shots and get his hands in to disrupt drives.
There will always be issues to sort out, but Bey is a legitimately appealing prospect for a Knicks team that needs help at both forward spots.
Clearly, investing a potential lottery pick into someone who may be a role player isn’t the most appealing of ideas. With a class that has limited star potential, however, it may be worth believing in Bey as a full-time starter for years to come.
It would not only address the Knicks’ current flaws, but help highlight the strengths of players who are currently on the roster—while only paying rookie-scale money.
Only time will tell where the New York Knicks will end up selecting a prospect at the 2020 NBA Draft, but Saddiq Bey should be on the radar.