Detroit Pistons 2020 NBA draft grades: Experts think Saddiq Bey is a real steal

If nothing else, the Detroit Pistons were active before and during the 2020 NBA draft.

New general manager Troy Weaver prefers to call it aggressive. When the sun rose on Wednesday, the Pistons had just one first-round pick. When it rose on Thursday, the Pistons had accrued three first-rounders and sent away one of their assumed pillars of the future.

SHAWN WINDSOR: Pistons’ stunning NBA draft haul revealed something huge about their future

In all, the Pistons picked guard Killian Hayes at No. 7 overall, center Isaiah Stewart at No. 16, forward Saddiq Bey at No. 19 and guard Saben Lee with the 38th overall pick.

They also acquired NBA vet Trevor Ariza via one trade, and sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers.

French guard prospect Killian Hayes
French guard prospect Killian Hayes

The big question: how’d the Pistons do? Annual disclaimer: any true grades can’t be handed out for years now. All four of these rookies could flop. They could all play. One of them could be the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year. Time, of course, will only tell.

But until then, we dig deep into what the world had to say about the Pistons’ haul, peeking at the grades handed out by experts and observers:

Scott Gleeson handed out a pretty good letter, one of eight A’s among the 30 NBA teams. Matt Eppers regarded the Pistons as one of the “winners” of the draft, getting “a dynamic playmaker with good size and scoring upside” in Hayes and “two rugged defenders with size and versatility” in Stewart and Bey.


OK, so everyone’s trying something new with grades. The Worldwide Leader tried to rate, well, everything.

First, with the two trades the Pistons made. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton gave Detroit a C-plus for getting Ariza and the No. 16 pick for a future first-rounder and 2021 second-rounder. According to Pelton, the deal eats up too much salary cap space for the Pistons to go after Fred VanVleet, one of the top point guard in free agency and someone who developed under Dwane Casey’s tutelage.

Pelton gave the Pistons a B for the Kennard trade, sending him to the Clippers, who sent Landry Shamet to Brooklyn, who gave Detroit the No. 19 pick and Rodney McGruder.

Pelton also considered the Pistons one of the “losers” of draft night, criticizing the Ariza trade but liking the Bey pick.

Isaiah Stewart of the Washington Huskies looks on in the second half against the Arizona Wildcats during their game during their game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on January 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
Isaiah Stewart of the Washington Huskies looks on in the second half against the Arizona Wildcats during their game during their game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on January 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.

“Bey has a chance to be a better two-way player than Kennard and, importantly, will be on his rookie contract for four seasons, while Kennard is up for an extension,” Pelton said.

As for the picks, ESPN believes Hayes was the third-best point guard in the draft and the 10th-best overall pick.

“Supersized for a guard with a huge frame, Hayes is one of the most creative passers in the draft — an elite pick-and-roll player who improved significantly as a pull-up shooter in an oversized role in Germany this year. How Hayes’ skills translate to the NBA game, especially with his ability to utilize his off hand and defend opposing point guards, will go a long way in deciding how successful of a pick this becomes,” wrote Jonathan Givony.

As for Stewart, the Pistons got the third-best big man, but just the 27th-best player at Pick 16.

“Considered by many to be the toughest player in the draft, Stewart will bring the type of physicality and intensity the team sorely lacked in recent years. Stewart’s draft stock rose steadily in the pre-draft process thanks to strong interviews, workouts and background intel,” wrote Givony.

And with Bey, ESPN rates him as the third-best small forward in the draft and deem that the Pistons got good value here, picking the 17th-best player at No. 19.

“Bey should find immediate minutes on a Pistons team that lacks much in the way of wing depth, bringing strong perimeter shooting, multipositional defensive versatility and the type of high IQ NBA teams have come to expect from the Villanova school of role players,” Givony wrote.

Sam Vecenie and John Hollinger had dueling analysis on each pick. When it came to Hayes, Hollinger liked it, while Vecenie would have preferred Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

“There is a real world where Hayes can become a high-level on-ball creator in the NBA. His creativity, feel for the game and potential to make plays is high. But his athleticism and lack of right hand is a real concern for NBA teams. He needs to prove the ability to create separation against NBA caliber length and athleticism with consistency,” Vecenie wrote.

Overall, The Athletic rated Hayes as the 10th-best pick in the draft.

Hollinger: “Hayes is neither a great athlete nor a great shooter, but has a chance to be a really good perimeter creator for a Detroit team that struggles with shot creation.”

They weren’t nearly as high on Stewart, rating the No. 16 selection as the 24th-best pick in the draft. Both guys would have preferred the Pistons select Aleksej Pokusevski, who went 17th to Oklahoma City.

Hollinger: “Stop drafting centers! Stewart is a high-character, long-armed player who impressed teams in interviews, but this feels like a reach. He hasn’t demonstrated a lot of perimeter talent at either end of the floor and profiles as a backup at the league’s least valuable position.”

But both guys liked taking Bey at No. 19, rating him the 16th-best pick.

Vecenie: “Bey strikes me as a role player tailor made for this version of the NBA that is looking for low-usage floor-spacers who can do a little bit more than that. Hit 45 percent from 3 this year. He’s extremely reliable defensively, is comfortable handling the ball, and can make terrific passing reads. He doesn’t have enough burst to be a shot creator, but he’ll play in the league for a while.”

Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey on Jan. 25, 2020.
Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey on Jan. 25, 2020.

Jonathan Tjarks was a little more kind to the Pistons, giving them an A for picking Hayes, calling it a “deep pull-up 3” from Weaver.

“Hayes has the best combination of ball-handling, shooting, and passing ability in this draft. He could develop into an elite point guard. The question is whether he has athleticism to be a primary option in the NBA,” Tjarks wrote.

He was not as kind with Stewart, for which he gave the Pistons a C.

“Stewart was a highly decorated high school player who became an extremely efficient offensive player for an underachieving Washington team. But it’s hard to see the value of taking a traditional big man whose best skill is post scoring in the middle of the first round,” he wrote, stating that these kinds are players could easily be found in the second round.

As for Bey, he earned the Pistons a B for moving on from Kennard and going with the Julius Erving Award winner as college basketball’s best small forward last season.

“Bey is a solid 3-and-D wing who should have a long career and help establish a culture in Detroit. Villanova players are rarely stars at the next level. But they don’t bust either,” Tjarks wrote.

Michael Shapiro was a little more succinct with his analysis, giving the Pistons an overall grade. He credited the team for recognizing a rebuild was necessary and kicking it into high gear during the draft.

“Detroit could have swung for greater upside with its two picks after Hayes, but both Stewart and Bey should be productive players as rookie. Now let’s hope Detroit doesn’t derail its rebuild with an ill-fated trade for Russell Westbrook,” Shapiro wrote.

Again, the value here is with Bey. Gary Parrish gave the Pistons an A-plus for what they did at No. 19.

“Bey has been the best available on my board for a while, so if you can get him way down here, you have to feel good about it. Bey is one of the most NBA-ready players in this draft and could step in and be a good player right away. I like this pick more than the other two Pistons picks,” Parrish wrote.

The other two first-round picks got passable grades, with the Pistons getting C-pluses for both Hayes and Stewart. Parrish thought there were some better fits available and that the Pistons will be left hoping that the point guard develops a jumper.

As for Stewart, Parrish said: “he’s a traditional big men, a little bit undersized and does a lot of work in the post. This is a bit of a reach because his style simply is out of fashion in the NBA. He’s a throwback, but he is a good one.”

Contact Kirkland Crawford: Follow him on Twitter @HiKirkHere.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons 2020 NBA draft grades: Mild reviews on Killian Hayes

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