On Sunday evening, Tyler Bey announced the news we all knew was coming but hoped it wouldn’t. The junior forward has declared for the NBA draft, per his own statement.
Bey’s statement was very different from McKinley Wright’s, his teammate who also declared for the draft but explicitly said he was “testing the waters”. Players are allowed to declare for the draft, conduct workouts and meetings with teams, and come back to school if they decide it’s best to wait a year. That’s what it looks like Wright will do, but Bey’s statement has a different tone.
Bey has the size, length and athleticism to play in the NBA. We have known that from his first day on campus. He’s worked tremendously hard to maximize those physical gifts, as he’s turned into an elite defender who can theoretically guard multiple positions in the NBA. He was named Pac-12 All-Defense twice, won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and was the backbone to an excellent Buffs squad.
His question marks come on the offensive end, however. He has a bit of skill shooting the ball and will probably be able to knock down corner threes at the next level, but he’s lacking almost everywhere else. His propensity for turnovers is concerning, as is his inability to consistently finish against length and size. His overall inconsistency is troubling as well, as he can disappear for long stretches of the game when his confidence or focus are down.
His likely NBA role is a defense-first forward whose offensive responsibilities are standing in the corner and finishing inside opportunities, something like Jerami Grant with less explosion. He has a serious chance to develop into a solid role player if he continues to develop his strengths to be NBA-caliber. The question right now is if Bey has done enough on tape to justify a late-first or early-second round selection.
The NBA season has been postponed and there’s no telling when or even if the season will continue. As far as the NBA Draft is concerned, the only certainty is that most of the pre-draft events will not happen. That means players will have to earn their draft slot through their actual game tape, not necessarily through athletic testing and individual workouts. That could hurt the late risers and borderline players who need those final steps to prove themselves, but Bey has quite a bit of tape that display his strengths and weaknesses.
It appears that Bey is gone for the NBA, but if the slowing of the process ends up disadvantageous for him, he still has plenty of time to rescind his name from the draft.