Tyler Bey, SF/PF, Colorado
Born Feb. 10, 1998 (age 22), 6’7 height, 7’1 wingspan, 210 lbs.
Tyler Bey committed to the Colorado Buffaloes as a four-star prospect who flashed elite length and athleticism as a potential defensive stopper. From his first ever start at Colorado, fans screamed “Andre Roberson!” when they saw his build, verticality, quick-twitch defense and rebounding ability. The comparison was a bit off, but the sentiment was there. Bey flashed tantalizing potential as a freshman and showcased a certain tenacity in winning moments.
That hunger carried over into his sophomore season when he was Pac-12 Most Improved Player. His scoring more than doubled from 6.1 points to 13.6, his rebounding rate went from 14.7% to 21.8% (best in major conference basketball), and he grew into a disruptive defender. He maintained that production through his junior year under more pressure as the Buffs competed for the Pac-12 title with him as their best two-way player. He was named the 2019-20 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year following his impressive season.
At 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan, Bey is built to be a switchable, small-ball power forward. He’s a defense-first prospect with terrific physical tools, has a great defensive motor and a knack for making plays on the ball. Those long arms and quick hands are hyperactive looking for steals and blocks, sometimes to his detriment. He’s a dangerous weak-side shot blocker with his explosiveness and leaping ability. His 43.5-inch vertical was the highest ever for a forward at the NBA Draft combine and that really shows on the defensive glass.
Offensively, he’s quite limited, but he’s better than Andre Roberson ever was. Most of his points come in the paint, where he’s a violent dunker and has a surprisingly soft touch on post moves. He excelled drawing fouls and converted at a promising 74.7% clip on 403 career attempts. His accuracy at the free throw line signifies latent 3-point shooting ability, however that would require a team to adjust his jump shot that has an inconsistent base and a low release point.
Most of Bey’s weaknesses are on the offensive end, where he’s quite raw for a 22-year-old prospect. He’s not exactly a playmaker with the ball in his hands and is turnover prone when passing or driving in traffic. He has a nice shooting touch but his jumper has major flaws that require some real adjustments for him to be a serviceable corner shooter.
For someone as athletic as him, he’s a worse interior scorer than you would expect. His finishing leaves a lot to be desired, particularly against defenders with NBA size and/or athleticism. His mentality can be a bit worrisome as well, as he tends to disappear for games at a time and shrinks against players more physical than him.
Defensively, he’s a bit worse than his reputation. Much of why he won Pac-12 DPOY was because he racked up steals and blocks, while also getting credit for CU’s excellent team defense. He’s a bit overaggressive, struggles with his positioning at times, and is too dependent on his physical tools. Bey is stronger than his thin frame would suggest, but still struggles against bully-types. He should still be a plus-defender, but he won’t be good enough to stick in the NBA on defensive value alone.
Taking stock of his strengths and weaknesses, Bey projects as a low-usage, defense-first role player in the NBA. His offensive abilities may be limited to dunking and shooting corner threes, and even the latter needs NBA coaching to develop. A year of seasoning in the G League might be best for his long-term growth. Once developed, his player type has evergreen valuable in the pace-and-space NBA. Every team needs role players with his length and athleticism to spot up in the corner and play relentless defense.