Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Colorado Forward Tyler Bey
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As we continue the examination of NBA draft prospects that could help push the Utah Jazz closer to contender status, we look more closely at Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey. The Jazz own the 23rd pick in the draft, and the talented junior is projected to be selected somewhere in the mid-first to early second round.
The NBA draft has been rescheduled from its October 16 date and is tentatively set for November 18. The Jazz first-round pick is their only selection in the draft after trading their second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyle Korver in 2018.
Tyler Bey: 6’7, 218 lbs SF/PF – Jr – Colorado
13.9 points, 9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 53% FG/41% 3p/74% FT
Tyler Bey is unquestionably one of the most exciting defensive prospects to watch in the 2020 draft. While not all good defenders are traditionally fun to watch, Bey bucks that trend with his high level of athleticism and length to have an enormous impact on the defensive side of the ball.
Standing 6’7 and nearly 220 lbs, Bey has prototypical wing size for the modern-day defensive forward tasked with defending positions one through four on the court. Bey’s rumored seven-foot plus wingspan and quick-twitch athleticism allow him to erase large swaths of the floor for opposing offenses. He can match up with the opposing team’s best offensive guard or wing and make
Because he can guard multiple positions, it’s hard to erase his defensive impact by pushing his defensive assignment out of the play. Even when switched off of the primary ball-handler, his enormously high basketball IQ on defense allows eliminate passing lanes, cutters, and dump off passes by reading the eyes of the passer and rotating as a help-side shot blocker.
He’s the type of team defender that has made players like Draymond Green and Matisse Thybulle so highly valued in today’s game. He’s got All-Defensive team potential due to his instincts as a junior in college.
Bey averaged 1.2 blocks per game in each of his last two seasons at Colorado and upped his steal average to 1.5 per game as a junior to earn PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. It’s difficult to not draw comparisons between Bey and former Colorado star Andre Roberson from their college days.
Offensively, Bey does the majority of his damage near the rim where he uses his elite athleticism and length to finish above the rim and with a crafty face-up game. He’s far from a gifted scorer but has more tools than the aforementioned Roberson on that end of the floor.
His ability to make quick moves offensively after catching the ball allows him to gain an advantage near the hoop. Bey’s ability to jump over and around players gives him lots of opportunities for dunks in the half-court, think of a young Stromile Swift.
Because of his ability to make quick moves to the basket and attack the rim, he earns a ton of free-throw attempts at the college level. Bey averaged nearly six attempts per game which he connected on at a healthy 74 percent rate.
Adding promise to his offensive repertoire is his continual improvement as a three-point shooter in college. Bey missed all six three-point attempts as a freshman, knocked down 5-22 (23 percent) as a sophomore, before connecting on 13-31 (42 percent) as a junior. Bey’s shooting stroke is a bit stiff, but his ability to score in the paint, his career 74 percent free-throw average, and his emerging three-point shooting game hint that he may be able to be at least an average contributor on the offensive end.
The question marks surrounding Bey’s game come in three areas — his age, playmaking, and small sample size as a shooter.
At 22 years old, Bey has lower upside as a prospect than other players projected to be available at this point in the draft (Jaden McDaniels, Isaiah Stewart, Josh Green, etc). Not only is Bey a junior, but he’s also an old junior entering the NBA at the same age as most college seniors.
It’s not a red flag to draft an older player late in the first round the same way it is in the top 10 picks, but teams have to be aware that the player they are drafting is a far less malleable player both in his strengths and flaws than if he were 19 or 20 years old.
It’s easy to see how Bey will excel on the defensive side of the floor in the NBA with his size, athleticism, and IQ. However, his inability to have a major impact on the floor offensively in college could limit his ability to see important minutes in the ever-evolving NBA.
To be an impactful player in the playoffs, you simply have to have more than one high-level skill. Even players like Royce O’Neale who is a plus defender but only an adequate offensive player may struggle to positively impact postseason games as the skill level of players at every position on the floor grows at a rapid pace.
While Bey certainly has the upside as a rim runner and potential floor spacer to impact games offensively, he’ll have to show he’s willing and able to shoot the three-point shot with more frequency in the NBA.
At this point, his role as a playmaker is relatively nonexistent. Bey must show he can put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts if he can prove to be an effective three-point shooter, either finishing at the rim or finding his open teammates. O’Neale has shown an ability to do it with a very limited ability as a ball-handler, something that will be required of Bey if he wants to become a reliable rotation piece.
Before he can become a player that attacks closeouts however, he must prove he worth the defensive attention as a three-point shooter. Again, his 42 percent connection rate on three-pointers in college is a promising number, but just 31 attempts in 31 games leaves a lot to be desired in regards to sample size.
Bey seemed to enter the season in hopes of proving he had added the long ball to his offensive repertoire, attempting four threes in the season opener against Arizona State. He attempted three in the second game of the season against San Diego. But, after connecting on just 2-7 attempts to open the season, Bey attempted more than two three-point attempts just once over the final 29 games of the season.
That means teams will not having him on the scouting report offensively until he can prove his willingness to take and make three-point shots in the NBA, which will hurt floor spacing overall as defenders sag off him to clog up the paint or shade towards other scorers.
How Bey Fits With The Jazz In The NBA Draft
As the Jazz have discussed wanting to add defensive integrity to their rotation, Bey makes perfect sense with versatility and impact on that side of the floor. Additionally, the Jazz sorely missed Bojan Bogdanovic’s size during the NBA restart in Orlando, something Bey would address at 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan.
O’Neale has aided the Jazz as more than a perimeter defender, becoming the team’s second-best rebounder behind Rudy Gobert as they shifted away from bigger frontcourt lineups. Having averaged 9.9 rebounds as a sophomore and nine rebounds as a junior, Bey would impact the team on the glass at a high level.
Bey’s length and athleticism would have an instant impact on the Jazz defense, especially alongside Rudy Gobert, and could help propel the Jazz back to being a top 10 defensive team early in his career, just as Thybulle has done in Philadelphia.
Quin Snyder’s offensive biggest strength is creating open looks for perimeter shooters, something the team’s front office has doubled down on in the past season looking to add “snipers at any position.” Bey didn’t prove in his college that he could fill that role, but it remains more of a mystery than a certainty of what he will or won’t be in the NBA.
It seems unlikely he’d ever become a player capable of taking five-plus three-point attempts as a true 3-and-D threat, but his upside as a defender may allow for him to succeed even if he’s not a top-level floor spacer.
Overall the positives of what Bey brings to the floor defensively, even as a 22-year-old, outshine the question marks that exist about his underdeveloped skillset on offense. While he’s a relatively safe pick late in the first round, he may have more upside than most defensive specialists if he can continue to improve on his three-point shot.
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