The Patrick Beverley Experience Is Everything Timberwolves Need It to BeApril 13, 2022
The Patrick Beverley Experience™ is not one intended to be quantified or even necessarily enjoyed. Its effectiveness is instead measured in emotional or physical heft.
Love him or hate him, for better and for worse, you are going to feel him.
Quite fittingly, the Patrick Beverley Experience during the Minnesota Timberwolves' come-from-behind play-in victory over the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night was everything it could possibly be—and more.
Insofar as an iconic performance can include scoring seven points on 2-of-8 shooting and a minus-five plus-minus, Beverley just turned in one. And insofar as that performance can divert the spotlight from more traditional detonations made by flashier names like Anthony Edwards (30 points, 5-of-11 on threes) and D'Angelo Russell (28 points, six assist, three steals), it just did.
This all happened in the backdrop of Karl-Anthony Towns' struggles, which set the stage even further for The Patrick Beverley Experience. KAT finished with 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting and fouled out with more than seven minutes left and Minnesota trailing by seven. The Timberwolves won anyway, because of everyone—Edwards, Russell, Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid, the whole gang. But Beverley was their emotional polestar, equal parts animated and uplifting.
He talked trash to the Clippers at large. He nearly coaxed the refs into giving Marcus Morris Sr. a second technical and the ejection that comes with it.
He picked up his own technical for what can only be described as typical, needly Patrick Beverley behavior. He pursued rebounds. He chased down loose balls.
He swished a circus shot that was overturned on review:
He sealed the Wolves' win with a steal on Reggie Jackson, playing the type of trademark, hyper-aggressive defense that has rendered him polarizing and invaluable, and that Minnesota didn't technically need in this exact moment. And then he let the Clippers and team governor Steve Ballmer know about it:
That is the Patrick Beverley experience in a nutshell: notoriety through alternative, abstract means. He is effort and energy, annoying and adored, profound and for-show, somehow all at once.
He is also beloved by his own, disliked by everyone who's not and both, simultaneously, by teammates-turned-opponents, who have this sort of reluctant, longing appreciation for what he brings:
History, of course, is littered with less-than-flattering sentiments on Beverley. His disregard for convention is endearing to some and grating to others.
No one will soon forget the 2013 playoffs, when Beverley, then a member of the Houston Rockets, lunged at Russell Westbrook as he was about to call a timeout for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook ended up tearing the meniscus in his right knee and missing the rest of season, and the Thunder were bounced from the playoffs in the second round by the Memphis Grizzlies.
That moment was among Beverley's first springboards into the mainstream. He hasn't left it since. His reputation as a tireless workaholic on defense is borne from those halcyon days of the James Harden-era Houston Rockets.
So, too, was the perception that he played with empty chaos, if not malicious intent.
Passage of time has not diluted bad blood, either. His beef with Westbrook is apparently forever, most notably resurfacing in 2019:
And then again this past February:
Let us also not overlook what Beverley reportedly said to Stephen Curry in 2018, according to Heavy's Sean Deveney. "You had the last five years. The next five years are mine."
This isn't meant to paint a picture of Beverley as the NBA's hallmark villain without a cause. Unchecked bravado and controversy are merely all part of The Patrick Beverley Experience.
For his own teams, that experience is a necessity. Those Harden-era Rockets thrived on his defensive energy and offensive scalability. The superstar-less Clippers wouldn't have got by without his grittiness. The Paul George- and Kawhi Leonard-led Clippers may not have appreciated him in full, but his value shone through yet again during last season's playoff push, after he was benched in the first round.
This year's Timberwolves have flat-out needed him. Hamstring issues caused Beverley to miss a chunk of games, and he buried a career-low 34.3 percent of his threes, but he was a part of their most effective lineup and took on some of the toughest defensive assignments. Nobody on the team spent more time guarding No. 1 options, according to BBall-Index.
There is also that which can't be calculated: impact on the culture. Teammates credited him with resetting the tone and holding them accountable when the Timberwolves were trapped in an early-season malaise, according to The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski.
That has to matter. The thing is, Beverley knows it. And he's not shy about letting everyone else know it, too. As he told Krawczynski:
"I'm a winner. I win on and off the court. I impact winning. I help my coaches; I help my teammates try to be the best version of themselves. I'm tough as f--k. I require a lot out of everybody—the film guy, the people in the kitchen, trainers, players, coaches—but I understand it takes a lot of that to win basketball games. My method is very unorthodox, but at the end of the day, 46 wins. It works."
Though never the primary force on any of his teams, nor an NBA champion, Beverley isn't exactly lying. When they have him, his squads get to the playoffs:
Now the Timberwolves are there, too. And upon surviving the play-in tournament, they celebrated, extravagantly, like they had just won the title rather than the right to square off against Ja Morant and the Grizzlies in the first round.
Minnesota's reaction to edging out the Clippers was led by none other than Patrick Beverley himself, whose revels were quickly packaged into theatrical captions:
And (hilarious) memes:
On the one hand: Meme away. Levity is great, and the Timberwolves, as a whole, delivered an outsized reaction relative to the stakes.
And it's not like Beverley didn't partake in some good ol' fashioned trolling himself:
On the other hand: This win represented something more than just the acquisition of the seventh seed, in so many ways. For the Timberwolves franchise, it's just the second playoff ticket since 2004, and their first with face-of-the-future Anthony Edwards.
For Beverley, it is validation by way of revenge. He not only helped the Wolves reach the playoffs and win a game in which Towns faltered and fouled out, but this victory came against his former team, the one that shipped him out for basically nothing to yet another organization that didn't want him in the Grizzlies, who he will now face in the first round.
This isn't quite poetic, but it's a feat worthy of emotion and a little bit of pageantry, for both player and franchise. And in this case, The Beverley Experience is made more wholesome by his deference to Minnesota's present and future:
And even its head coach:
Does any of this suddenly make Beverley universally likable? Or a consensus protagonist previously, unjustly scorned? Probably not.
If you didn't enjoy Beverley before, you most likely won't change your tune. But this season, and this particular game, should at least amplify understanding and appreciation for what the Patrick Beverley Experience brings to the table: heart, hustle, hard feelings, hyperbole and, oftentimes, results.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference, Stathead or Cleaning the Glass. Salary information via Spotrac.
Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale), and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by NBA Math's Adam Fromal.