2016 NBA Draft Prospects: Breaking Down Future of Florida State's Malik Beasley

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 24, 2016

Feb 11, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Malik Beasley (5) brings the ball up court during the first half of a game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won  85-72. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn't much NBA buzz surrounding Malik Beasley entering his freshman year at Florida State. Even after a productive start, it took a month or two for him to receive recognition within the 2016 draft conversation. 

It eventually became clear that Beasley's numbers weren't fluky, and his physical tools and game seem like a solid NBA fit. 

He now appears locked into June 23's first round. With strong workouts and interviews, Beasley could potentially generate interest from teams selecting in the late-lottery range. 

Relevant Stats  

Malik Beasley 2015-16 Numbers
PPGRPGAPGSPGFG%3PT%ORtgUsage
15.65.31.50.9.471.387117.524.3
Sports-Reference.com

While Beasley's 20.9 points per 40 minutes were strong, his 47.1 percent field-goal clip and 58.3 percent true shooting percentage are even more encouraging. His 1.6 threes per game, 38.7 percent three-point clip and 81.3 percent mark from the free-throw line also bode well for his potential as a shooter. 

Beasley's 7.1 rebounds per 40 minutes were also a top-notch mark for a guard. He isn't a playmaker, which you could tell from his 51 assists and 59 turnovers on the year, but nothing from his statistical profile should trigger any alarms. 

Strengths

Jan 23, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Malik Beasley (5) shoots the ball past Pittsburgh Panthers guard Sterling Smith (15) during the second half at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

A terrific athlete, Beasley may be the most explosive 2-guard in the first-round discussion. He's an easy-bucket machine in transition, where he can fly down the floor and ultimately soar above the rim. His bounce translates to dunks off of fast breaks and any action toward the basket (slashes, drives, cuts).

In the half court, Beasley threatens defenses off the ball with an accurate three-point stroke. He shows rhythm in catch-and-shoot situations. Of his 55 made threes (in 34 games), 51 were assisted, per Hoop-Math.com. Beasley ultimately looked like a convincing shooter during his one-and-done season at Florida State.

He also looked fairly advanced scoring with runners or floaters. We've seen sharp footwork and soft touch, and though he still needs work, he's capable of stopping and popping before traffic.

Beasley also demonstrated a tight shot selection and didn't hunt or force heat checks. He was productive but also super efficient. His feel for scoring within his team's offense should lead to a smoother college-to-pro transition.

He gives strong defensive effort, and because he's laterally quick, coaches may want to stick him on opposing teams' ball-handlers. 

Weaknesses 

At just 6'4 ½", 189.8 pounds with a 6'7" wingspan, Beasley lacks size, strength and length relative to others at his position.

Creating shots isn't his forte, so he doesn't project as a one-on-one scorer, and he only got to the free-throw line 3.8 times per game as a freshman. Meanwhile, his 9.8 percent assist percentage, per Sports-Reference.com, ranks last of any 2-guard on the first-round radar. He's not dangerous out of pick-and-rolls or isolation. 

Defensively, he can get a little jumpy and aggressive, and he leaves home too often.

Pro Comparisons

Wesley Matthews
Wesley MatthewsJohn Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Wesley Matthews

Beasley will start his career with a jumper, line-drive game and defensive motor. 

He projects as a similar three-and-D 2-guard to the Dallas Mavericks' Wesley Matthews. They're complementary shot-makers and opportunistic scorers, though you wouldn't want them first or second in your offensive pecking order.

Beasley must become more disciplined on defense, but his foot speed and competitiveness portend perimeter ball-stopper potential.

Latrell Sprewell

Like Latrell Sprewell did, Beasley plays with fire, energy and burst. They both put pressure on the rim in the open floor.

Sprewell was never a giant or an advanced ball-handler, but he developed into a threatening shooter, mid-range scorer, slasher and tough defender. These are all areas Beasley in which has flashed high potential, so Sprewell is a ceiling comparison if Beasley maxes out his strengths.

Best-Case Scenario 

Beasley is only 19 years old and still has plenty of room for growth in terms of expanding and sharpening his ball skills. It's anyone's guess how much he adds to his game over the next five years, but his shooting, athleticism and defensively ability give him a strong foundation to build on.

Having measured under 6'5" without great length, it's tough to envision him becoming a future All-Star. But with the right fit and opportunity, developing into a quality starting 2-guard will be attainable. 

Worst-Case Scenario 

Beasley's game doesn't scream monster upside, but his floor seems high. 

He'll enter the league with top-shelf athleticism, a dependable jumper and a built-in motor. With those attributes, he should have something to offer from day one to year 10. Even if he fails to make significant notable progress, we'll likely still be talking about him as a two-way energy reserve.

Prediction 

Jan 17, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Malik Beasley (5) reacts as the buzzer sounds after the game against the Virginia Cavaliers at the Donald L. Tucker Center. The Florida State Seminoles upset Virginia 69-62. Mandatory Credi
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

His NBA-friendly blend of shooting, athleticism and energy could go a long way in what appears to be an underwhelming first-round field. Beasley looks like an NBA player, even if his ceiling doesn't pierce through the clouds.

I'm expecting him to go somewhere in the No. 12 to No. 20 range. As long as there is an opening in his team's rotation (which many teams have at the off-guard slot), he should be able to earn some minutes right away. 

He'd currently sit top 15 on my predraft big board heading into June. I anticipate Beasley emerging as a starter by 2018 and holding that status for years to come.

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