When a young man enters the world of the NBA, there is an overwhelming level of expectation to be met. As a result, players as young as 19 years of age become trusted with responsibility that they had never experienced before.
One of the polarizing figures who fits this bill is Michael Beasley.
Beasley was a college star at Kansas State and became the second overall draft choice in 2008. Since then, he has encountered trouble with the law, found himself involved in trade talks and even fallen out of favor with a few coaching staffs.
He is now entering his fifth year in the league and joining his third franchise. With the Phoenix Suns, however, expect Beasley to maximize his star potential.
In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Beasley outlined the tremendous strides he has made both as a person and as a player. The former Kansas State star appears to believe that he has begun the process of realizing his potential.
Both as a man and athlete.
"I know the public sees me as a monster," [Michael] Beasley told Yahoo! Sports. "That is what the media paints me as. But I'm me, a monster to some, a nice guy to some, a great father to four, a son, a brother just like everybody. What the media thinks or perceives me as, is not my concern. I'm just doing what I got to do to, first, help the team, second, help myself.
"Five years in, I'm nowhere near where I thought or wanted myself to be. I don't have anyone to blame that on but myself. All I can do is look forward. On the court, off the court, I'm in a better space, better state of mind – the right track so to speak."
"I'm finally in a good state of mind," he said. "Now I just got to get this thing on the court rolling."
For the sake of his future, one can only hope that such statements hold truth. If they do, anticipate one of the best individual seasons of the year from one Michael Beasley.
Can Michael Beasley realize his star potential in Phoenix?
He's Approached It Before
Two long years later, it has become a popular theory that Beasley is a draft bust that will never reach his full potential. That is not the case, however, as Beasley is a 6'10" small forward that is only 23 years old.
If we were to write him off right now, why expect anything out of the likes of a Nicolas Batum?
What's most important to note about Beasley is that he is a player who makes the most of his opportunities. Allow the numbers to do the talking for this one.
In 2012, Beasley averaged 18.7 points and 7.2 rebounds during games in which he played at least 30 minutes. Albeit scarce in occurrence, Beasley proved that he is capable of producing at a high level when given the opportunity.
In Phoenix, those opportunities will come rather often. In fact, Beasley could become the most relied upon scoring option in the Suns' offensive attack.
Label a preseason as you will, but there is no way around how important momentum is for a young player. That is the case for Michael Beasley, who posted preseason averages of 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals in 24.0 minutes of action.
During the final game of the preseason, Beasley proceeded to place his star potential on full display. In a battle with the Denver Nuggets, he finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
Coincidentally, this was the first preseason game in which he saw at least 30 minutes on the floor.
It would be blasphemous to predict Beasley posting averages of 29.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game come the regular season. To state that he cannot be a 20 point per game scorer, however, would be false.
His 19.2 per contest in 2011 and a strong supporting cast in 2013 offers insight as to why.
With a quality facilitator in Goran Dragic, as well as frontcourt players Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat, Beasley has the quality teammates who can help him produce at a high level. Beasley also has a coaching staff capable of leading the Suns to legitimate success.
In turn, Beasley has an opportunity to lead this team to the postseason. Expect stardom to become a legitimate realization around the halfway mark of the regular season.
Franchise Believes in Beasley
For the first time since entering the league in 2008, it appears as if a franchise fully believes in Michael Beasley. This first became evident when the Phoenix Suns ignored the embattled star's past and signed Beasley to a three-year, $18 million deal (via ESPN).
Head coach Alvin Gentry made such even more evident with his comments made to Spears and Yahoo! Sports.
"[Michael Beasley] came completely clean, and I thought the other thing that was great was he said he wanted to be a great player and 'I want somebody to coach me,'" [Alvin] Gentry said. "He's willing to do that.
"It's a process. Especially with me as a coach, you have to be patient. He's still a young player. He still has a lot to learn. He's a very, very naturally gifted basketball player and one day he will be a great player."
How will Gentry prove that he believes in Beasley? Per a report via Zach Buchanan and Paul Coro ofThe Arizona Republic, the coach has done such by offering Beasley a role as the starting small forward.
A position that the organization believes Beasley can fill to a superstar level.