How Michael Beasley Can Get His Career Back on Track with Miami Heat
Yahoo Sports: The Miami Heat sign free agent Michael Beasley to a non-guaranteed one-year deal. http://t.co/QHx7Yp0faX— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 11, 2013
But the track back to the NBA doesn't stop here for Beasley. He hasn't met his goal yet. If anything, this is just the first step on that path, and there's a lot of work left to be done.
For him to find even a tiny bit of success in the Association, he'll need to follow these tips.
Stay out of Trouble
This should be obvious, but apparently it's not for Mr. Beasley.
He absolutely must stay out of off-court trouble. Even the slightest slip-up at this point could spell the end of his career in the NBA, ushering him into either retirement or one of Europe's many professional leagues.
For a full breakdown of Beasley's downward spiral, check out Grant Hughes' timeline of the former No. 2 pick's career. Be warned: While it's an entertaining and thorough read, it's a little bit depressing how far the Kansas State product's stock has fallen over the last few years.
Miami is filled with temptations.
All things considered, it's probably not the greatest city for Beasley to find himself in. Beginning his career as an immature professional with the allure of South Beach right next to him might have contributed rather heavily to his downfall.
I don't care how he does it. If he has to lock himself in his bedroom whenever he's not participating in an official Heat activity, he should do it.
Protecting his career is of paramount importance at this stage, and quite frankly, Beasley is lucky to be getting another shot at finding success in the NBA.
He can't afford to waste it.
Accept a Smaller Role
Along similar lines, Beasley must accept that he's not going to play even a remotely large role for the Heat. Even during a year in which he lost his job for the Phoenix Suns, the forward managed to play 20.7 minutes per game.
That ain't happening this year.
Beasley will be lucky to get five minutes per game for the Miami Heat, and that's assuming he even makes the final roster in the first place. Remember, he's operating on a non-guaranteed contract that's essentially a training-camp invitation. He has his work cut out for him if he wants to earn a spot in the rotation.
Some players struggle taking on smaller roles. They reject it, treating the decline in playing time as a personal affront.
Beasley doesn't have that luxury. He can't afford to take it personally. Instead he has to view even the smallest modicum of playing time as an opportunity to prove himself.
Start Posting Up Instead of Shooting Jumpers
Now that we've gotten the mental stuff out of the way, we can focus on what actually needs to happen on the basketball court.
And the first key is that Beasley must start turning his nose up at anything that smells like a mid-range jumper. He's only going to be presented with a few looks per game—at most—and he can't waste those by shooting long two-pointers.
Over the course of his NBA career, Beasley has devolved into the least valuable offensive player in all of basketball, and that's thanks to his poor shot selection.
Here's how his offensive win shares have trended ever since leaving Kansas State:
It's actually kind of impressive to earn minus-2.5 offensive win shares in a single season. That's a horrifying combination of playing time and inefficiency, and it's a threshold that only 23 players in NBA history have reached.
To fix that, Beasley has to start attacking in the post.
According to Synergy Sports (subscription required), the former Wildcat scored 0.83 points per possession when working in post-up situations. That left him as the No. 77 qualified player in the NBA, which is a pretty impressive rank for anyone, much less a player who struggled tremendously on offense.
Two skills benefit him tremendously when he puts his back to the basket, and both of them are evident in this play against the Golden State Warriors:
First is his strength.
Beasley has always had a strong core and lower body, and that allows him to hold post positioning. Klay Thompson isn't the strongest NBA player, but he's still big enough that he can usually move people when they hold up their arm in search of the ball for too long:
Now take a look at how little Beasley moved over the course of the four seconds that elapsed. That's just a single step, and he took it in order to receive the lazy pass from his point guard:
The second skill is Beasley's finishing ability around the basket.
He's quite adept at getting the ball into the hoop in creative ways when he's within the paint, and his poor field-goal percentage and efficiency numbers all stem from what he does farther away from the hoop. According to Basketball-Reference, he shot 63.3 percent from around the rim last season, and only 13.3 percent of his attempts there came on dunks.
On non-dunks at the rim, Beasley still made 59.1 percent of his looks.
These are the shots that the forward has to look for, as missing jumpers is the easiest way for him to lose playing time. Even when the former Kansas State standout gets to play, he'll likely be surrounded by better offensive options like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
It's absolutely vital that he uses his time establishing himself in the post rather than using that awful jumper, one that he hit only 34.4 percent of the time in 2012-13.
Focus on Rebounding
Finally, Beasley has to bring something to the table other than offense.
The best bet is his rebounding, as that was one of his truly elite skills in college. However, a lack of effort has prevented him from becoming an assertive force on the glass at the sport's highest level.
During his one season in Manhattan, Beasley pulled down 12.4 rebounds per game en route to being named a consensus All-American as a freshman.
That didn't just lead the Wildcats. It paced the entire NCAA.
To put that in perspective, Kevin Love also played college basketball that season, and the UCLA stud could only manage 10.6 boards each game.
But in the NBA, Beasley's rebounding has trended down once more. Below, you can see his total-rebounding percentages, offensive-rebounding percentages and defensive-rebounding percentages over the course of his lackluster career:
That's not a promising trend, especially because rebounding isn't a skill that young, athletic players like Beasley just lose. In fact, it's supposed to be one of the traits that translates the best from the college game to the pros.
It's an effort thing.
Beasley simply doesn't play like he has his head in the game. And that has to change during his second go-around with the Heat. He's not going to be asked to play much, and he won't be relied upon as a primary scorer whenever he is in the game, so he has to develop a marketable role-player skill.
Will Beasley get his career back on track with the Heat?
That should be rebounding, as Beasley is a horrific defender, doesn't thrive making plays for his teammates and doesn't enjoy setting screens for his squad.
If he's able to hone this skill while playing more heady offensive basketball, there's a solid chance that he could make the 12-man roster and embark on his redemption tour. The path toward a more prominent role will be a long and arduous one, but at least there's a path.
At this point in Beasley's career, there are no more excuses. He'll be held accountable for everything he does, both on and off the court.
It's time for the disappointments to end.
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