How worrisome are Saddiq Bey’s struggles?

We’ve all experienced it before, even if you’re not playing for the Detroit Pistons. Beat parents or friends, yell at a colleague, honk at the driver in front of us. Something that, upon introspection, led to the question: Was it really my fault?

Saddiq Bey, the Detroit Pistons’ 19th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, has fallen short of the expectations that emerged from an insightful rookie season. When the Villanova product premiered on the big stage, it averaged 12.2 points, 4.5 boards, and 1.2 assists per night with an impressive 40/38/84 shooting split.

It was a dream start for the first draft of the newly appointed General Manager Troy Weaver at the helm. He found a diamond in the rough outside the lottery.

His second campaign was far less successful. Does Bey fall short of the forecasts or did the fans simply expect too much growth too soon?

Detroit Pistons: Saddiq Bey’s shootout

In the first 11 games of the Detroit season, Bey’s averages have improved to 12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, but with a miserable 36/26/72 splits.

The limited damage he did is due to his shot creation near the edge compared to his long range skills. Over 63 percent of his shots came from the bow last season, compared to 41 percent this year. Despite working closer to the basket, his effective field goal percentage of 41 percent ranks in the bottom 10 of the league, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Bey’s lackluster shooting may go unnoticed given the historically poor shooting ability of the entire team.

The Pistons are shooting 39.6% this season, the worst of any team since 1960.

That was more than 60 years ago. The Lakers were still in Minneapolis then.

They also shoot 28.6% of three, the worst of any team in the last 20 seasons. pic.twitter.com/mTUWV2Cvln

– StatMuse (@statmuse) November 13, 2021

It is noteworthy, however, that one of the league’s next potential snipers has been one of the most inaccurate to date. Eleven parts are hardly enough for piston brass to twitch and stimulate change. But it’s enough display to raise an eyebrow.

Bey took a small step forward on Saturday. He scored 16 points in beating Toronto but only shot 4 to 11 (despite being 3 to 7 from the three-point country).

However, given what we know about what Bey can do, the wing deserves the benefit that this slump is temporary.

In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that his current style of play will be encouraged. The 3-point shooting, which has yet to be unlocked this season, is here. We saw it. Bey now has the opportunity to expand his arsenal. This experiment was shown in the Summer League when Bey played over the competition, got defenders off the ground and tested his footwork in depth.

Sure, the regular season results have been mixed so far. His 3-ball fell off a cliff and he had mixed successes on the edge. His 55 percent accuracy for a long shot from medium range is in the top 10 percentiles of the NBA, according to Cleaning the Glass. Putting everything together with consistency is a skill in itself.

This brings the discussion back to expectations.

The Pistons never wanted to fight for the playoffs this season. They are still one of the youngest teams in the league, prone to the fluctuations and inconsistencies that often accompany youth.

Giving Bey the freedom to operate in a new space – getting the ball on the court, introducing at the elbow, taking boys off the dribble – is the natural evolution of 3-and-D drafting. The results shouldn’t be good to start with. This is still a rare and welcome sight from a player who turned 19th last season.

However, if these shortcomings last too long, the tough questions can be asked. That time couldn’t be this season.

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