Tyler Bey, Forward, University of Colorado
- 6’7” (7’1” wingspan) 216 pounds, 22 years old, from Las Vegas, Nevada
- 2019-2020 season: 31 games played, 29 minutes per game, 13.8 points per game, 9 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks, 53% field goal percentage (41.9% from three), 74.3% free throw percentage.
- Accolades (per sports-reference): 2018-19 All-Pac-12 - 1st Team, 2018-19 Pac-12 Most Improved Player, 2019-20 All-Pac-12 - 2nd Team, 2019-20 Pac-12 All-Defense, 2019-20 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year
- Advanced Stat Strengths (per Tankathon): Free Throw Attempt Rate (.693), Win Shares per 40 Minutes (.227), 10.1 Box +/-
- Advanced Stat Areas to Improve: Three Point Attempt Rate (.117), Assist/Turnover Ratio (.61), Projected NBA Three Point Percentage (33.7%)
- Current Big Board Rankings: 14th (Tankathon), 39th (Ringer), 48th (CBS Sports), 28th (ESPN)
From 14th to 48th and everywhere in between, where exactly Tyler Bey fits in the modern NBA is a real question to ponder.
Why, you ask? Because he was a 6’7” wing that was asked to play as a big at Colorado. So, in theory, he will need to become much more perimeter based as he enters the Association to be able to make an impact. But...in an age of positionless basketball...could Bey be a power forward or even a center in a small ball lineup and help a team like Memphis cause complete chaos on both ends of the floor?
He has experience in such a role - and thrived in it - against PAC-12 competition. But the NBA is a different animal, and Bey would need to expand his game - literally and figuratively - to do so. Hence the uncertainty in terms of draft value. He has a lot of fun layers to his game. But just how much of what he is near-elite at will translate to the pros?
What he does well
You will be hard pressed to find a player the size of Bey as good at rebounding as he is. Sure, he spent a majority of his time at Colorado in and around the paint. But at his size? In a Power Five conference? Nine rebounds a game is impressive, and the year before he averaged 9.9 rebounds per game in less overall minutes! He has an innate ability to track the ball off of the rim, and he also understands how to use his body to gain leverage and create the right kind of contact. That shines through in his quite high free throw attempt rate mentioned above as well - his feel for the game and how to make his s athletic frame an advantage through positioning is really fun to watch.
He also contributes to winning basketball in a variety of ways. Defensively, he may be able to defend four, if not five, positions on the floor depending on match-ups. It isn’t too far fetched to envision him defending Ben Simmons on a possession or two in a game, then later on in the contest drawing the Joel Embiid defensive assignment. That’s not to say he’d dominate either match-up - his athleticism and quick lateral movement ability make him more suited for perimeter work than post defense given his lack of strength and size. But the fact he physically can do it is impressive, and can add levels to a team’s defensive scheme.
While he doesn’t shoot a ton of threes (more on that below), and his shot looks funny, between his percentage this past season and free throw percentages he should be able to become a legitimate threat from beyond the arc. He’s smart, aware of his surroundings, and capable of impacting shots offensively and defensively depending on where he’s at on the floor.
How he can improve
That jumper could be a starting point, but again, it isn’t like his shooting percentages from deep are bad. So perhaps you can leave that alone. Beyond the odd shot release, the main question about Bey moving forward is what exactly is he? His handle isn’t good enough to be a point guard, but beyond that? He realistically could be a 2, 3, 4, or 5 in the NBA depending on coach and point of emphasis. That versatility is very en vogue right now, yet being a true tweener like Bey makes it possible you fall in to the “jack of all trades, master of none” type of player. When you’re not elite at anything, and you’re not a star that’s very good to great in multiple areas (like Jaylen Brown, for example), it’s hard to stick in the NBA.
It isn’t impossible - Memphis has De’Anthony Melton who is a good example of such a player. But Bey isn’t a playmaker (his Assist/Turnover Ratio is really bad - he has to be better creating offense for teammates and protection possessions) and where he thrived in college is filled with literal giants in the pros. He wasn’t necessarily anti-perimeter offensively, he was just athletic enough to get to the rim and score. But that won’t be the case in the NBA - he must diversify his offensive tool belt to stay on the floor.
The fit and verdict
The Melton comparison isn’t as far off as you may think. De’Anthony doesn’t have the frame of Bey, of course, and Melton is better at creating as a facilitator than Tyler. Yet both excel defensively, and both have skill sets that are malleable between lineups and schemes. If Tyler can become a three point threat - which isn’t that much of a stretch considering his percentages at Colorado - he provides the experience of a big (screen setting, body positioning in the paint, verticality in the lane defending the rim) in a wing’s body. Melton is a versatile backcourt player. Bey is potentially a versatile back AND front court player.
Will he be there for Memphis at #40 overall? Perhaps - the NBA is a fickle beast when it comes to offensive production. Surely teams will see his seemingly averse reaction to a perimeter game, couple that with the fact he is probably primarily an NBA wing, and theoretically push him down the draft. But once a team like the Raptors, Lakers, or another title contending squad is on the clock later in the 1st round or early in the 2nd like the 76ers or Mavericks, is hard to see them letting Tyler fall to the second round. When you’re a tax paying squad especially, you need as much versatility from draft picks you possess as possible.
Outside of ball handling, Bey provides that. He can rebound, defend, (theoretically) shoot...all that with the experience the 22-year-old would bring to the table would probably be too much for such an organization to pass up. He’d be wonderful for Memphis - but he won’t be on the board at #40. The Lakers, or someone like them, will snatch him up late in the 1st round.