Can Michael Beasley Re-Ignite His Career with Phoenix Suns?
I had high hopes for Michael Beasley when he was coming out of Kansas State. He could rebound and score from almost anywhere with a savant's fluidity. I certainly did not fault the Miami Heat for taking Beasley with the second pick in the 2008 NBA draft.
I retained those hopes when Beasley stumbled out the gate for Miami, getting fewer minutes on Erik Spoelstra's squad than lower selection Mario Chalmers. It wasn't for lack of offense. "Beas" had an impressive 17.28 PER as a rookie. The problem ran a bit deeper and it's continued to plague his still young career.
The issue was that Michael Beasley played atrocious defense, and by all appearances, he wasn't exactly striving to get better. Even today, he often stops to argue calls, ceding easy fast breaks to the opposing team.
I will not claim to know what's going on in Michael Beasley's head, but his downward career trajectory could speak to not getting whatever "it" is. His player efficiency went from 17.2, to 16.16, to 15.54, down to 13.31. That's just the offense. Beasley's defense has remained dismal since he set foot in the association.
Right now, he's addicted to launching difficult two-point shots. Last season, 44 percent of his attempts were two-pointers outside of 10 feet. The season before, he launched long twos at a rate of 47 percent.
The issue isn't that Beasley is good at such shots—it's not uncommon for NBA players to be in the low 40s to high 30s on such tires. The issue is that these are bad shots. Unless Michael can find out how to magically convert these long twos at around 50 percent (he hovers between 37 percent and 43 percent), this is a bad strategy for staying in the league. Even in his best games, he's doing it with bad, contested, long two-point shots.
Note how, in the YouTube clip, the announcers are speaking of how Michael Beasley just needed a fresh start in Minnesota. I suspect that Beasley will "need" more fresh starts as his career goes on.
The hope is that Phoenix can break Michael of his long-two habit. Beasley is a good three-point shooter; he shot .376 on threes last year and .366 the season before. If he takes some of those two-point attempts beyond the arc, Beas will be a far more potent offensive weapon.
Until last season, Phoenix was among the best three-point shooting teams in the league. Much of that could be credited to Steve Nash, but one hopes they carry on the tradition now with Goran Dragic fully at the helm. Dragic lacks Nash's court vision, but his drive-and-kick style should lead to treys for others.
Will Michael Beasley benefit in this new scene? At a certain point, it's fair to doubt it. I hope that the talented scorer will one day "get it." But I've seen too much to invest a whole lot in that hope.
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