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Michael Beasley is far from a reserved guy. He’s spontaneously goofy off the court and oftentimes psychotic on. For a bulk of his life he’s always been the center of attention due to his freakishly long body and insanely outstanding skills on the court — especially possessing the skill set he has at the size he is.
After injuring his foot early on in the season, Beasley was forced to sit for 11 games. He made his return last Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs, prompting some to wish he had never come back in the first place after an ugly return — Just seven points on 3-11 shooting.
Wolves fans, and I’m sure Heat fans when he was with Miami from 2008-2010, have been and still are a little hard on Beaz. There’s no reason to think he doesn’t deserve it, though. He was the second overall pick in 2008 behind the reigning MVP in Derrick Rose; he had extremely high expectations going into the draft with some even believing he should’ve gone first.
Nearly four years later and brand new, lucrative extensions, we’re close to seeing exactly who has panned out already and who is still piecing together an NBA career from that draft class. We’re close enough to pegging those guys that, if the draft were to happen all over again, it would’ve drastically changed; Rose would stay at the top but then Love would likely make the jump to second overall. Beasley? Well, he’d probably drop to fifth, maybe even sixth overall.
It’s not the talent that’s in question, by any means, rather the drive and the determination to be the best he can be. We’ve seen how Beasley can get disconnected from the game when he misses a few of his patented jumpers. We’ve seen how he refuses to pass the ball until he works out the kinks in his own game. We’ve seen him glare down rims after missing free throws as if it was its fault.
Like I said, he’s had a lot to live up to as an NBA player and the second overall pick in 2008, and, whether it’s the pressure or something else, it hasn’t quite panned out. Nor has it been atrocious, though; there are still glimpses of greatness we see from time-to-time. Last night was one of those nights. Beasley, still semi-recovering from his sprained foot, came off the bench for the third straight game since returning. Contrary to Friday night’s pitiful game against the Spurs, Beasley caught fire last night and lit the Rockets up for 34 points in just 32 minutes.
The most frustrating thing about Beasley’s game is his inconsistency and selfishness within the offense; think Carmelo Anthony but even more inconsistent (Yikes!) But last night we saw Beasley take advantage of his decreased role on the court by upping the efficiency and taking cleaner, crisper shots. It got me thinking: What if Beasley was meant to come off the bench his whole career?
Obviously you don’t take a player second overall to have him come in off the bench his entire career but there are players that have made a living by being the sixth man. Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom, just to name a few, have made their careers by coming off the bench and jumpstarting offenses when the starters fail to get off to their expected starts.
In the 2008-2009 season, Beasley spent the majority of the season on Erik Spoelstra’s bench in Miami. He sat watching and learning until it was his name called to be that go-to player. He was never called to that duty all season long leading to a rather impressive rookie season. Beaz finished with nearly 14 points a game in only 24 minutes. That was also his best season shooting from the field at 47% as well as his lowest TO rate, just over 10%. Despite receiving less minutes, Beaz didn’t let that get the best of him. He still played his game when he finally saw the court and posted a respectable usage rate of 27.7%.
Last season was arguably Beasley’s first attempt at becoming a solidified starter in the NBA with the Wolves. He had a good year, posting career highs in points and assists per game (19.2, 2.2). Those numbers, especially the points per game, are awfully deceiving, though. In his rookie season, he only needed just under 12 shots a game to average nearly 14 a game. But last season, Beasley needed over five more shots a game to score just five points more on average than his rookie season. Statistically speaking, that shouldn’t be happening.
The inconsistency may be a constant debate over Beasley’s NBA career but the biggest difference between those two season were his role in the offense: Reserve vs. Go-to Starter. Adelman might have this figured out without even looking at the numbers. By decreasing how many minutes Beasley can play as well as throwing out the pressure of starting off the game on a good foot, Beasley is forced to take more efficient shots, thus taking advantage of the smaller role. But it all comes down to whether his ego is too big to settle into a supporting role for this team rather than that go-to starting scorer. If he can, he might be able to revitalize his career and, ultimately, help this team win throughout the season and even secure himself a new contract to play alongside Rubio and Love for seasons to come.