No one thinks that Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley lacks natural talent. Instead, the knock on Beasley has always been that he lacks focus, work ethic and the mentality to become a star in the NBA. After four middling seasons split between the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves, that reputation is not undeserved.
Beasley now finds himself at a crossroads in his career. If the Wolves do not extend him a qualifying offer of roughly $8 million, he will become an unrestricted free agent this July. The good news, though, is that Beasley has a fantastic plan for improving his game this summer. In fact, he's going to shoot a fake number of jump shots and dribble an impossible number of times every day. From Dave Campbell of the Associated Press:
His plan is to continue his summer work in Los Angeles with former Lakers standout Norm Nixon, who has become a mentor of sorts to Beasley, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft by Miami.
Work is the operative word, according to the grueling, ambitious plan he laid out.
''Shoot a zillion jump shots a day. Dribble a million minutes a day. Just work on being an all-around player, from rebounding to defending to blocking shots to stealing basketballs to scoring to playmaking,'' Beasley said, then repeating for emphasis: ''Just working on being an all-around great player. Not just a scorer, not just a defender, not just a rebounder. Just being an all-around great player.''
He added: ''If anybody questions my conditioning I challenge them to come and work out with me for a day. It's tough. I go four times a day. I go at 6 a.m. on the track. After that we do boxing, jujitsu, all that. Then ballet. Then basketball. Three or four days out of the week we run five, six miles on the beach. Barefoot. From Santa Monica to Venice. Back up to Santa Monica.''
That last paragraph makes it clear that Beasley has a real plan in place for his conditioning, but it's still tough to get past his claims of shooting a zillion jumpers and dribbling for 694.4 times more minutes than there are in an actual day. In being so wild with his claims, he actually ends up seeming much less serious than he probably is. If he'd said he were taking 1,000 jumpers a day and dribbling for two hours, we'd be impressed without carrying the assumption that Beasley is still a goofy guy who spends his off-hours watching cartoons and eating junk food.
For all we know, Beasley's offseason workout routine will transform his game and help him follow through on his massive potential. In the meantime, Beasley isn't doing himself any favors. As long as he describes his plans in this way, he's going to seem unserious. And if his image doesn't improve, then literally dribbling for all 1,440 minutes of a day wouldn't even make teams think he'd change his ways.
That change will eventually have to come on the court, but at this point in his career, he also needs to prove some semblance of maturity to potential teams. It seems simple, but using real numbers is a start.