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Villanova’s Saddiq Bey could be a valuable three-and-D option for Sixers

Bey was one of the NCAA’s best three-point shooters and among the Big East’s best defenders. The 21-year-old routinely defended the opponent’s top scorer regardless of position.

Villanova's Saddiq Bey could step right into a role on an NBA team, experts say.
Villanova's Saddiq Bey could step right into a role on an NBA team, experts say.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

Some league executives project that Saddiq Bey could go anywhere from No. 15 to 25 in next Wednesday’s virtual NBA draft.

So there’s a chance the former Villanova standout will be available when the 76ers pick at 21. The team also has four second-round selections, at Nos. 34, 36, 49, and 58.

As a result, the 6-foot-8, 218-pound forward was asked Wednesday how he would potentially fit in with Sixers All-Stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

“I think my mentality is the same for every team,” Bey said on his predraft Zoom call. “I want to contribute to winning. I think whatever that team needs for me to do, or any team ... whatever they need me to do to help win, I’ll be excited and comfortable in doing so.”

Bey wouldn’t disclose the teams for which he’s worked out or met with during the predraft process.

But the team that lands him is getting one of the NCAA’s best three-point shooters who is also among the Big East’s best defenders. The 21-year-old, who has a 7-foot wingspan, routinely defended the opponent’s top scorer regardless of position.

His work didn’t go unnoticed. Bey won the Julius Erving Award, which goes to the nation’s best college small forward. He was also named an honorable-mention All-American and first-team All-Big East.

All that came while averaging a team-best 16.1 points last season as a sophomore. His 45.1% shooting on three-pointers ranked fourth in the nation.

If there’s a knock on Bey, it’s a lack of elite athleticism and ability to create his own shot in the NBA. However, Bey is still regarded as one of the more NBA-ready players in this draft. He could develop into a solid three-and-D type of player.

“There are some questions you would like answered about him," said Ryan Blake, a draft consultant for NBA teams, “but he’s a skilled combo forward that has the upside to play both ends of the floor, that has an upside to be a threat.”

But, as a middle- to late-first-round pick, Bey could go to a team that already has solid go-to veterans. He was asked how he sees his role in that scenario.

"It’s something that I can’t control,” Bey said. "I can just control my work ethic. I think personally for whatever team I’m blessed enough to be able to make it to that level, it’s whatever role they see in me.”

The one thing NBA teams see is that he comes from a program known for producing NBA-ready players.

Villanova has eight players in the NBA, with the headliner being Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, a six-time All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, and 2019 NBA champion with the Raptors. The 34-year-old was the 24th overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2006.

The other seven NBA players played at Villanova within the last five seasons: Ryan Arcidiacono (Chicago Bulls), Mikal Bridges (Phoenix Suns), Jalen Brunson (Dallas Mavericks), Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee Bucks), Josh Hart (New Orleans Pelicans), Eric Paschall (Golden State Warriors), and Omari Spellman (Minnesota Timberwolves).

“I’ve talked to almost everybody that’s come in the league right now,” Bey said of reaching out to the former Wildcats for advice. “I just think a lot of the advice is just sticking with what we do individually ... playing hard."

Of the Villanova products in the league, Bey is closest to Paschall, a second-round pick last yaer who made the NBA All-Rookie Team this year. Bey said Paschall told him the biggest adjustment between college and the NBA is the amount of games.

“It’s just staying true to ourselves and our habits,” Bey said.