Detroit Pistons rookie Saddiq Bey’s ongoing transformation into a complete scorer continued on Wednesday.
Parts of his 28-point, 12-rebound performance against the Toronto Raptors was routine — or as routine as something can be for a first-year player. Bey hit six of his 10 3-point attempts, the third time this season he has made at least six. He entered the NBA with a reputation as a 3-point marksman, and that has been his best skill so far.
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Bey also made two shots inside the arc, something he struggled with early in the season. He cut to the rim for a dunk in the first quarter, and later slipped inside for an offensive rebound and putback layup. Bey’s overall efficiency has improved significantly since January, largely because he’s hitting a higher percentage of his non-3 pointers.
At 6 feet 8 and 215 pounds, he has the size and strength to body defenders while driving to the rim. He has been doing a better job of using his physical gifts to his advantage.
“He is a big kid,” Dwane Casey said after Detroit’s 116-112 win, snapping a four-game skid. “He’s strong as an ox and he’s learning how to get low with the ball, coaches are doing a great job of working with him. He’s a sponge. You almost have to keep him out of the gym as far as working on his game and penetration, which he did some of that in college but not against the size and length that you see in the NBA.”
In his first 21 games, Bey shot better from 3 (35.5%) than he did overall (34.4%). That was because he only shot 15-for-47 inside the arc in that span. In his 17 games since, he’s shooting 27-for-48 (56.2%) inside the arc and 47% overall.
Casey envisions him making significant strides in other areas as well. Bey has shown on occasion that he’s capable of creating for his teammates, and flashed some of that playmaking skill at Villanova. The coaching staff sees it becoming a featured part of his game.
“He’s just beginning,” Casey said. “He’s scratching the surface of all of the games. I can foresee him putting the ball on the floor, running pick and rolls. He’s an excellent passer. He’s a guy that triggers the ball out of bounds in clutch situations, which he did at Villanova. He’s just a solid, solid pro and he’s going to be a star in this league or a long, long time.”
Fans gave Pistons lift during win
Wednesday's game was the first of the season where ticket-buying fans were in attendance at Little Caesars Arena. Previously, the Pistons only distributed tickets to friends and family of team employees.
It was an energetic, engaged crowd that added life to the game. "MVP" chants ringed in the arena as Jerami Grant shot two free throws at the end of the game. For now, the state allows for just 750 fans. From a noise standpoint, Casey took notice.
"It was so loud I had to yell at the officials for them to hear me," Casey said. "Any time you have your fans in the stands, it makes all of the difference in the world because Detroit fans are so passionate, they're intelligent, they know good basketball when they see it, they let you know it. Any time you can get that energy in the game is so important. It helps our players all around."
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons' Saddiq Bey continues impressive rookie year vs. Toronto