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DRAFT WATCH #3: Saddiq Bey’s mature skill set makes him an alluring prospect for Nets

The NBA Draft was supposed to be last night. We’d be spending all day viewing videos, arguing who was left, etc. Now the Draft is October 15. In the interim, we’ll take looks at possible prospects.

Villanova v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

It’s no real secret at this point: This upcoming draft hasn’t quite drawn the same excitement and anticipation of those of yesteryear. Now, it’s been postponed till October 15, limiting excitement even further!

But like underwhelming drafts of the past, that lack of excitement doesn’t mean there aren’t quality, serviceable players to be had outside of the lottery. No one knows that more than Sean Marks, whose highest draft pick came in the 2016 NBA Draft when he selected Caris LeVert with 20th overall pick in the first round. Marks had to give up Thaddeus Young to get that high a pick.

If Saddiq Bey is looking for a place to call home once the Nets are on the clock with their 20th overall pick (via Philly), obliging him makes all the sense in the world for Marks. But if these past few months have taught us anything, nothing is certain. This coming off-season is no different.

The Nets could work around the edges this off season and acquire talent deemed more complementary to their current roster in a trade. Or they could venture down the road of the theatrics and entertain a blockbuster deal to help realize their goal. Whatever the magnitude of a potential trade, that first-round draft pick this year isn’t exactly off limits.

Marks went into last year’s draft in full ownership of two first-round draft picks and exited with two second-round selections: Nicolas Claxton and Jaylen Hands. Again, nothing is set in stone. Hell not even the draft order.

The Nets could move up if Philly lays an egg in the remaining eight regular season games...or, for those daring to conjure such an irrationality, the Nets could tank their way back into their own lottery pick by missing the playoffs all together. If they do end up missing the playoffs, they’d get their own lottery-protected first-round pick back from Minnesota. But with a six-game lead on the Wizards, who will be without Davis Bertans, that doesn’t seem too plausible.

So with a pick that is likely to be in the 18-22 range, there’s no guaranteeing that Bey will still be around once they’re up-to-bat in the draft. Multiple mock drafts penciled Bey in as a lottery pick, others had him hovering around the late-teens—which, in all likelihood, would be just before Marks could get his paws on the Villanova product.

NBADraft.Net (updated on June 25) has Bey going 30th to the Raptors, NBC Sports has him going 21st to the Nets, CBS Sports recently mocked him at 14th to the Spurs, and Bleacher Report 16th to the Timberwolves (with the Nets pick). So does ESPN, which hasn’t updated its mock in 11 weeks! There really is no exact science when it comes to predicting where a prospect will land.

All we can do right now is present an argument for Saddiq Bey and cast aside all doubts. Because if the Nets land him, he has the potential of fitting in seamlessly.

In 31 games this past season for the Villanova Wildcats, Bey averaged 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on impressive 47.4/45.1/76.9 splits. In fact, his 45.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc was the highest in the Big East, and he finished fourth in three-point field goals made (79). If his college perimeter shot can translate to the NBA—especially for a team like the Nets who finished fifth in three-point attempts per game this season—he could become a very important rotation piece down the line.

He might not possess the prettiest jump shot you’ll ever see, from a traditional standpoint the shot looks wonky, but if it works...who really cares? And in his two seasons with Villanova, it worked—to the tune of 41.8 percent on 4.6 attempts per game.

He’s a 6-foot-8, 216-pound versatile wing whose seven-foot wingspan allows him to act as a disruptor on the defensive side of the floor. Likewise, his lateral quickness and physical strength allows him to not just switch onto perimeter players, but bang down low and body opposing bigs/wings. Switchability is never a bad thing, at least from what I’ve heard.

Having a plug-and-play two-way wing with elite catch-and-shoot acumen and strong defensive capabilities has been something many Nets fans (myself included) have advocated for. Some in elaborate trade hypotheticals, others in the buyout market or free agency. Well, the draft is just another avenue to obtain such a player.

Bey is NBA-ready, now. He could immediately come in and make an impact. And that works in Brooklyn’s favor. Because as a team that’s looking for instant contribution, acquiring a guy whose attributes are complementary—he’s not going to demand a high-usage, from all accounts he can play organically within the flow of an offense—only augments the team’s dynamic. This prospect wouldn’t necessarily be a project; Bey is not someone who’d need significant time and nurturing to develop, something this current iteration of the team does not have time for.

He’s a mature player; he plays with infectious passion and never takes plays off. In a sense, his game mimics what David Nwaba was for Brooklyn in his brief tenure here, but with a higher pay off as his perimeter shot and overall offensive repertoire should surpass that of Nwaba’s—blasphemy unintended, I swear.

Below are some highlights from his 2019/20 season with the Wildcats. Plenty of catch-and-shoot looks, strong cuts towards the rack without the ball, him taking smaller guards to the block a la Joe Johnson, tenacity on the offensive glass, and defensive plays that’ll put a smile on your face.

The Nets recently acquired 28-year-old combo guard Tyler Johnson, in lieu of the Rockets signing David Nwaba to a two-year deal. If Johnson can re-find his game that made him such an intriguing target of Sean Marks (who after all offered him a four-year, $50 million contract just to be matched by the Heat back in 2016), his game should alleviate some of the offensive woes that plagued the Nets squad this season.

And Bey, whose physical approach is near-synonymous with Nwaba’s, has the potential of being a disruptive, defensive-minded wing who could throw opposing offenses fits with regularity (kind of, again, just like Nwaba did). And also, shoot the three-ball at an efficient clip and make right reads on collapsing defenders.

It’s nearly impossible to predict what the Nets will do, but if they’re in the market for a versatile wing—though just a prospect at this stage—Saddiq Bey makes a lot of sense.