Tyler Bey, My Favorite Sleeper
Whether fair or not, draft stock is not just about overall impact. An 18-year-old will be treated far differently than a 21-year-old in terms of where they are projected and where they might end up by the conclusion of their initial NBA contract.
Sometimes a prospect's impact can get drowned out by that conversation. We focus more on their age and the fact they haven't already reached full polish than on how what they already do well might fit the current NBA climate.
Tyler Bey is the perfect example of this.
He has one skill he can hang his hat on: his defense. Bey is an outstanding on-ball and help defender. He's one of the better athletes in this draft, has a track record of strong, multi-positional defense and is one of the more under-the-radar guys based on the team and program he played with at Colorado.
Bey bounces around on draft boards quite frequently, and it seems there are three divisive factors surrounding his draft stock.
The first: Shooting. He was 13-31 (41.9 percent) his junior year at Colorado, a solid percentage with really low usage. Bey was a putrid 5-28 his first two seasons, though.
The second: Age. Bey is 22 years old, and an unproven shooter at his age rarely sniffs the first round, regardless of how projectable his role might be.
The third: Position. Bey is only 6'7", so belief in his perimeter skill is essential to buying him as a long-term prospect. He doesn't have great assist numbers or a track record of creating for others. His primary spot on offense at Colorado was with his back to the basket, as 29.1 percent of his usage came in post-up situations.
Sometimes, the simplest answers to the doubts are just diving into the film and seeing what a player actually does well.
Bey's game is indeed pretty simple: He's a monster defender, an elite athlete and he scores around the bucket. Those skills never go out of style.
His type of mobility, with a seven-foot wingspan and shot-blocking instincts, does not come along every day. That's why, despite his age, his defense should be so coveted. Bey nails one area of basketball I view as being super important: closeouts.
As the ball moves around the floor, defenses expand and retract, similar to the human heart. The goal of an offense is to catch one defender slightly off-balance or out of position as they expand, since that opens up an opportunity to drive. Bey's closeouts are so reliable that he rarely provides these opportunities, which will be more valuable due to its deterrence than any statistical component can measure.
Speaking to his upside, Bey can likely guard 3s and 4s with regularity, expanding to the 5 if he adds a bit of strength on the blocks. He's also functional in switches onto 1s and 2s, though a full-time role there might not suit him well.
He's reliable with his weak-side verticality, he understands rotations, is a high-motor player and has become a great rim protector at Colorado.
But the question for Bey remains: what is his ideal position?
On defense, his skills most match that of a swing forward, guarding the 3 and 4 while spending enough time near the rim to show off his shot blocking prowess. But on offense, Bey is more a cutter and finisher, either off the pick-and-roll or along the baseline, positions usually reserved for the 5.
No question, the development of his 3-point consistency is the swing factor for Bey.
Going 41.9 percent from behind the arc after two poor years at Colorado is important improvement. But that's still only on 13 makes. How much is driven by small sample size? How much is legitimate improvement? Without the ability to see how he's progressed in individual workouts since the conclusion of his season, that remains a pretty erratic measure for him.
Bey was a 4/5 tweener at Colorado, and spent a ton of time working with his back to the basket. He wasn't a frequent PNR man or screener, seldom shot the ball in spot-up scenarios and didn't have the luxury of playing with other pro prospects. If he's going to have an offensive impact at the next level, it'll be through the continuation of his jumper's consistency and playing a drastically different role than he did at Colorado.
Overall Analysis and Draft Projections
Bey gets a late-first round grade in my book. His defense is that good, and he's the type of guy I'd want to have on my team. Defending those frontcourt positions with someone who can switch, lock down his adversary and fly around as a helper is a big part of today's game, especially for teams drafting in that late-first area who are playoff bound.
In some regards, he's a fascinating study there. What he does well really helps teams who are in the hunt and picking in the late 20s. But the questionable nature of his jump shot could prevent him from being taken there, at least on a four-year contract, because he'll be tough to play if he isn't consistent there.
For those reasons, Bey is more likely to go in the earlier part of the second round, the 31-40 range. Those questions could prove futile if Bey becomes reliable from 3-point range, at least consistently above 34 percent. If he gets there, we'll be disappointed in ourselves for not viewing him as a first-round lock, no matter what age he is.
By my count, Bey is the third-best defender in this class, behind Devin Vassell and Isaac Okoro.
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Adam Spinella is a Division III basketball coach using what he's learned about scouting and skill development and applying it to the NBA Draft