Saddiq Bey went from a first-team All-Rookie draining three after three to a second-year pro who can't get one to fall. His prolonged shooting slump is one of the many reasons the Pistons have plunged to the bottom of the NBA. In the context of Detroit's future, it's also a cause for concern.
Just not for Bey.
"It’s good for me," Bey said Tuesday. "I work hard every day on every part of my game. When adversity hits, it just brings out the character in people."
Bey broke the Pistons rookie record for threes last season while shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc. He's below 30 percent this season. He's also below 35 percent from the field and below 75 percent from the line. He's averaging fewer points on nearly three more shots per game. His true shooting percentage of 44.2 percent is second to last in the NBA out of 186 players.
But if the results have changed, Bey's will to improve hasn't.
"For me, I just work harder and enjoy it, because down the line I’m going to look back at this year and these moments where I haven’t shot the ball well and (see) what I did to get myself out of it," he said. "So it’s just part of the journey and I gotta embrace it."
Last year, Bey was mostly a spot-up shooter. He took twice as many threes as twos. In an effort to expand his game this season, he's trying to create more shots for himself inside the arc. He's taken more twos than threes. Perhaps that's part of the reason for his struggles from outside, but Bey said it has nothing to do with mechanics.
"Just gotta get back in rhythm," he said. "Gotta continue to play off each other to get good clean shots as much as we can. Sometimes we're down in the shot clock and we have to force stuff up at the last second, which obviously skews numbers. So us continuing to learn how we have to play offensively, I think it helps everybody get in a rhythm."
Bey shot about 42 percent from three in two seasons at Villanova, including 45.1 percent the season before he was drafted 19th overall by the Pistons. But he was more than a 3-and-D specialist in college, and he's shown flashes of being more than that in the NBA.
"I’ve been in every role you can imagine," he said. "It’s just figuring out how I can do it consistently."
The Pistons have a brighter future if Bey is a more complete scorer. It's a worthwhile project in their rebuild, so long as he doesn't lose his touch from three. In the meantime, Bey needs to keep taking the shots that come his way. As Dwane Casey said Tuesday, "Saddiq has gotta continue to be Saddiq."
"Don’t worry about missing shots, don’t overthink it. Play. When he misses one, I think he starts pressing a little bit instead of just playing basketball and finding joy in the game," Casey said.
Like the Pistons, Bey seemed poised for a breakout season. He was "really coming on" in camp, according to GM Troy Weaver, and then he averaged 17.2 points and 9.0 rebounds in the first five games. He's been off ever since, and the Pistons have spiraled. No one expected the second year of the rebuild to be harder than the first, but here we are in December. Bey says it's good for him.
It'd be great for the Pistons if he shoots his way out of this slump.
"He’s a great kid. He comes back every night and works, and probably overworking himself a little bit," said Casey. "He's a student of the game. He watches every league game he can watch. He’s such a serious young man, which is great, but don’t overthink the game of basketball. It’s a simple game and all of us make it complicated."