Do the Detroit Pistons really miss Saddiq Bey this season?

Detroit Pistons center James Wiseman (13) Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons center James Wiseman (13) Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s hard to argue that the trade of Saddiq Bey for James Wiseman has worked out for the Detroit Pistons.

Wiseman has barely played, and when he has, looks like one of the worst players in the league and that is not hyperbole.

The only way he’s going to step on the floor this season is if the Pistons suffer multiple injuries to their bigs, and even in that hypothetical, Monty Williams might do something crazy like put Killian Hayes at center instead, that’s how bad Wiseman has looked.

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Saddiq Bey has started 3-of-6 games for the Atlanta Hawks and has been about what you would expect. He’s averaging 11.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent from long range, both career highs.

There is no arguing that Bey has been better than Wiseman, but do the Detroit Pistons really miss him? The answer is yes and no.

Do the Detroit Pistons really miss Saddiq Bey this season?

The Pistons miss Bey’s reliability

With all of the injuries they have suffered already this season, the Detroit Pistons do miss one aspect of Bey’s game, which is that he was usually on the court. He played 77 games last season and all 82 the season before, so if nothing else, you could pencil his name into the lineup. Detroit was already thin at forward coming into this season (maybe why it wasn’t smart to trade one for a fourth center) and injuries to Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Livers have just made it worse.

Detroit doesn’t miss Bey’s ball-stopping or defense

Monty Williams is trying to get his team to share the ball, to embrace his .5 offensive system that requires quick thinking and action. Bey was a black hole while playing for the Pistons, a ball stopper who often tried to back his man down for the entire shot clock instead of keeping it moving. With a lesser role in Atlanta, he’s not getting the same opportunities for this but he’s still averaging just over an assist per game. Bey’s style doesn’t fit with what this team is trying to do, and as bad as the Pistons have been in some areas, they are 6th overall in the NBA in assists per game.

The Pistons certainly don’t miss Bey’s defense on the wing, as he was one of the worst defenders at his position in the NBA last season. Their defensive efficiency has improved dramatically (up 10 spots in the rankings from last season) without Bey and Ausar Thompson has been a game-changer on that end in his place.

The Pistons won’t miss Bey’s future contract

The best thing about James Wiseman is that he’ll be gone soon. He’s on an expiring deal and unless something drastically changes, his next one will be with a different team. Bey also didn’t get an extension, one of many from the lackluster 2020 draft class, but the decision on his future will be more difficult for the Hawks. What is a player like Bey actually worth? He can get hot and win you a game from time to time, and now that he’s playing a more suitable role with less usage, he’s been more efficient, but not having to pay Bey was the main reason the Pistons traded him to begin with.

So yes, the Pistons could use another warm body right now, but Bey doesn’t fit with what Monty Williams is trying to build. It’s not so much that the Pistons miss Bey, it’s that they’ve gotten next to nothing from Wiseman, who is a net negative and unlikely to even be part of the rotation this season unless the Pistons are very injured or decide to tank again.

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