The Atlanta Hawks will be in Detroit this week, and they’ll bring a familiar face. Saddiq Bey will return to the city where his NBA career began. The Detroit Pistons have turned to veterans to fill the void after the Bey trade, but their veterans have struggled with injuries.
Last year, Bojan Bogdanovic served as a solid replacement for Bey. The trade that sent Bey to Atlanta suggested that the front office didn’t want to pay him the money he required to sign an extension. Weaver and company viewed him as having a ceiling similar to that of Bogdanovic, a gifted shooter who could cut off screens but wasn’t quick enough to stay in front of agile guards or wings, couldn’t get his own shot or make plays, and wasn’t big enough to guard centers or oversized wings in the mold of Kevin Durant.
Bogdanovic, unlike the young Bey, played like a veteran. He rarely made mistakes, played within his game, and didn’t try to do too much. He didn’t make mistakes on defense even though he didn’t possess the physical attributes necessary to be an elite defender.
In extending Bogdanovic, retaining Alec Burks, and acquiring Joe Harris and Monte Morris, Detroit sought to replace Bey’s shooting with veteran leadership and sought a more athletic small forward in the draft.
The Atlanta Hawks are using Saddiq Bey the right way
I admit, the trade caught me by surprise. I saw Bey as a foundational piece for the future. Bogdanovic, for all he brought to the team, is already the player he will become. Bey has years of development ahead of him.
Atlanta, it appears, deploys Saddiq Bey well. While Jalen Johnson has assumed the starting power forward position in Atlanta, Bey serves as a floor-spreading reserve. His clearly defined role limits him to what he does well, and he thrives on a team that has more tools than needs.
The Hawks are 12th in the league in three-pointers made per game, 10th in attempts per game, and 18th in three-point percentage. Saddiq Bey, one of their best shooters, is shooting .385 this season, above league average. He gives the athletic, quick Hawks a young floor spacer who can play at the team’s pace.
In Detroit, unfortunately, the veterans have all missed time with injuries. The Detroit Pistons are shooting .366 as a team from beyond the arc, and their effective field goal percentage is a pedestrian (by NBA standards) .526, ranking 20th in the league.
Detroit could use more floor spacing and shooting. To solve the issue, the Pistons recently signed Kevin Knox, a player who might fill some of the void created by the injured veterans.
While Saddiq Bey continues to play well with the Atlanta Hawks who currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Pistons continue to seek answers to injuries and find the right pieces to put together a balanced game of basketball.