Everyone has talked about how much talent Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley has. The past three seasons, people have said that he could be one of the best scoring players in the league. I didn’t believe those people, until last night.
What I saw last night, against the Houston Rockets, gave me some hope for the future. Before Beasley got hurt, I was not impressed with his inability to let the offense run its course. In the opening game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Beasley took 27 shots, making only 11 and missed a lay-up in the closing seconds that would have tied the game. His defense was still suspect, but I will give him a break because he was going against Kevin Durant, who is the best scorer in the NBA.
In the second game of the season, with coach Rick Adelman gone because of personal reasons, Beasley’s attitude was out of control. His actions on the court and toward acting-coach Terry Porter were disgraceful, inappropriate, and uncalled for.
I wanted him gone after that game. Honestly, I did. I never wanted to see him in a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform ever again. Over the next five games, Beasley didn’t shoot the ball well, was booed at times, and his defense was still inconsistent. But there was one positive: rebounding. He was averaging 7.4 rpg in those five games.
Then he got hurt. A mid-foot sprain forced Beasley to miss the next 11 games. The absence of Beasley wasn’t really noticeable though. The ball moved more fluently on offense without him and the Wolves were winning games. They went 6-5 without Beasley and gave up 100 points or more only three times in those 11 games.
Beasley returned Friday against the San Antonio Spurs. I was hoping there was a change in Beasley. I hoped that he would focus more on defense and letting the offense come to him. I didn’t get my wish. Beasley went 3-11, scoring 7 points and, once again, heard boos from the Minnesota crowd. On Sunday, Beasley came off the bench for the second game in a row and posted 18 points, 12 rebounds three assists and two steals against the Los Angeles Lakers while playing 30 minutes.
O.K., so I was happy to see Beasley play more of a “team” game this time around. He didn’t force too many bad shots, moved the ball well, and played in the passing lanes on defense. Maybe Adelman is starting to get through to him.
It all came together last night. Beasley scored 34 points off the bench against the Houston Rockets. While he only had three rebounds, he shot 10-14 from the field and got to the free-throw line 12 times, making all 12. He helped the Wolves overcome early struggles and beat the Rockets 120-108. Beasley was efficient, smooth, and aggressive (when he needed to be).
Between Kevin Love averaging 25 ppg and Ricky Rubio posting double-doubles, I hope Beasley can find his niche on this team. At 10-11, the Timberwolves are in the playoff hunt, which is more than could be said last year.
But maybe becoming a sixth-man is more of Beasley’s calling? When he is on, you keep him in the game. When he isn’t playing well, then you treat him like another bench player. I feel that his ability to dominate second-group players is more beneficial to the Timberwolves than him starting.
This might be a once-in-ten-games thing for Beasley, but if I have found renewed hope.