How Saddiq Bey can become the Pistons’ Jimmy Butler

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) gets defended by Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) gets defended by Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

After a slow start, Saddiq Bey has had a solid second season for the Detroit Pistons, adding to his offensive game and establishing himself as one of the core pieces moving forward.

Bey has been the Pistons’ most consistent player, both in terms of production and minutes, as he has started every game, an impressive accomplishment considering the challenges of this season.

While it’s still early in his career, Bey has flashed All-Star potential at times and looks like a guy who could be a consistent 18-20 point scorer in the NBA for a long time.

He’s a tough and competitive player with a bit of a mean streak which is sometimes reminiscent of Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat.

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It might seem a stretch to compare Bey to a six-time All-Star this early in his career, but Bey is already far ahead of where Butler was at his age offensively, and with some improvements could get to that All-Star level.

Saddiq Bey vs. young Jimmy Butler

Butler was a year older than Saddiq Bey when he entered the NBA and really didn’t have much of an impact until his 3rd season in the league, when he averaged 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals at 24-years-old.

Bey is just 22-years-old now and is already putting up better offensive numbers, averaging 15.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists. It should be noted that Butler was also an emerging elite defender who would eventually be on the All-Defensive team five times.

But Saddiq is a more polished offensive player than Butler was at his age, and looks to be on a similar trajectory. Butler made the leap after that third season and became an All-Star at age 25, offering further proof that patience sometimes pays off.

Butler jumped up to 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his first All-Star season while playing outstanding defense and leading the NBA in minutes.

So what does Saddiq Bey have to do to reach that level?

Defense and efficiency

I do think Bey can eventually be a consistent 20+ ppg scorer in the NBA as Butler has been for the last 8+ seasons.

Butler was able to make the leap as a scorer partially because of increased opportunity, but also because his efficiency jumped way up.

He went from shooting 39 percent in his 3rd season to 46 percent the next, with his 3-point percentage jumping from 28 percent to 37 percent on increased volume.

Bey is shooting 38 percent from the field overall this season and 34.6 percent from 3-point range, so if he wants to make a similar leap, he has to be more efficient shooting the ball.

Saddiq has already shown he can do it from the 3-point line, shooting 38 percent in his rookie season, so he is well ahead of where Butler was as a 3-point shooter, especially considering he is launching twice as many.

What makes Butler special is his ability to get his own shot and consistently make tough ones, something that Bey has done at times this season, though not consistently. Bey added more mid and short-range buckets to his arsenal this season, and if he can develop a consistent go-to move as Butler has, he can get there as a scorer.

As a defender, Bey still has a long way to go to reach Butler’s status and I don’t know if he’ll ever get there. He might be best suited to defend power forwards, as Bey is not as quick as Butler and sometimes struggles to stay in front of faster wings.

I doubt he’ll ever get there as a defender, but Bey has already shown the scoring potential, leadership and toughness that Butler is known for, and if he can just tighten up his efficiency, the Pistons may have a multiple time All-Star in Bey.

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