The highlight of the Detroit Pistons 134-120 victory over the Orlando Magic was second-year forward Saddiq Bey. With Jerami Grant and Cade Cunningham both out for Thursday night’s game, Bey took charge of Detroit’s offense scoring a career-high 51 points.
The 22-year-old put on a show. In addition to his 51 points, Bey collected nine rebounds, dished out four assists and added three steals against the Magic. He is just the seventh Piston in franchise history to score 50 points or more in a game. Bey also made franchise history by tying Joe Dumars’ record for most three-pointers made in a single game with 10.
Bey scored his 51 points on excellent efficiency. He shot 17-for-27 from the floor and 10-for-14 from beyond the arc. He added seven more points from the free-throw line where he shot 7-for-10.
With no other NBA games played on Thursday night, the Pistons and Magic were handed the league’s spotlight. The Magic entered the game coming off a 150-108 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, in which the team gave up 60 points to Kyrie Irving. With the Pistons coming to town, the last thing Orlando needed was to be embarrassed by another explosive scoring night against them. Unfortunately for the Magic, Bey took full advantage of Cunningham’s and Grant’s absence.
Saddiq Bey was unstoppable against the Magic
Bey opened up Detroit’s scoring with a three-pointer with 9:31 left in the first quarter. He dominated early in the game scoring 21 points in the opening period. Bey scored from everywhere: drives into the lane, spot-up three-pointers, catch-and-shoot looks from three and midrange. The Magic had no answer for him.
With 10.8 seconds left in the first half and just one second on the shot-clock, Cory Joseph was set to inbound the ball from the baseline. Bey ran off a screen from Marvin Bagley III that gave him just enough separation from Franz Wagner. Joseph delivered the ball and Bey sank a fall-away mid-range jumper from the baseline over Wagner’s outstretched arm.
From out of bounds, Bey hustled back into play and stole the ensuing inbound pass. He passed it to Joseph who immediately dropped it back off to him for an easy three-pointer with just 3.9 seconds left on the clock. Bey finished the first half with 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting.
In the second half, Orlando’s defense shifted its focus onto the 22-year-old. Wagner draped himself over Bey throughout much of the second half, the fourth quarter especially. Bey played through the physical defense en route to 21 second-half points. With 1:09 left in the fourth quarter, Bey shook off Wagner with a stepback three to get his scoring total up to 49 points. A late foul by RJ Hampton sent the 22-year-old to the charity stripe where he scored point numbers 50 and 51.
Bey’s 51 point outing against the Magic is the best performance of his young career, but the Villanova product has been flashing his developing scoring abilities all season.
Bey’s development in 2021-22
This is not Bey’s first big scoring night. This season, the 22-year-old has scored thirty or more points five times, including a 34 point performance in a 115-106 victory over the Bucks. He has scored 25 or more points 12 times this season as well.
In his rookie year, Bey was limited to a three-point shooting role. This year, the 22-year-old started putting the ball on the floor and finding his own shot. He is attempting 3.5 pull-up jumpers per game, third-most on the team behind Cunningham and Grant.
The 22-year-old is one of Detroit’s best off-ball scorers as well. This season Bey is attempting 5.4 catch-and-shoot three-pointers per game, he is connecting on 37 percent of them. His off-ball scoring is a tremendous compliment to Cunningham and Grant.
It should come as no surprise that Bey’s role in Detroit’s offense has increased since his rookie season. Bey’s three-point shooting ensured he would him more looks from three this season. Additionally, His performance in the summer league and the preseason foreshadowed Bey becoming comfortable with putting the ball on the floor and creating for himself.
His improved scoring was on full display against Orlando. He did most of his damage against the Magic within the flow of Detroit’s offense. He ran off screens and cut to the rim. When he did isolate, Bey used his physicality to get to the basket and generate space for a shot.
It was a culmination of everything Bey has worked on this season that earned him a 51 point performance. This performance showed Bey is capable of carrying a heavier offensive load. As his role in Detroit’s offense continues to grow in the coming years, he could develop into one of the league’s more lethal scorers.
(Featured Image Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)