November 22, 2010
The NBA is full of redemption stories, but few have come as suddenly and surprisingly as Michael Beasley's(notes) recent scoring outbursts for the Timberwolves. In his last six games, Beasley has averaged 31.3 points -- never scoring fewer than 25 -- on 53.4 percent shooting from the field. Not bad for a player the Heat could barely give away this offseason.
Beasley has always had the talent to succeed -- he was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft, after all -- but he now seems to be putting things together mentally, as well. Still, at least one veteran thinks Super Cool Beas has to change his approach if he wants to have long-term success.
Here's the sage Ron Artest(notes), as quoted in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
"Beasley should watch (Miami star) LeBron James(notes)," Artest said. "Beasley's actually a better shooter than LeBron, but the smarts are not there. He's talking so much trash instead of worrying about the game. He needs to become a winner." [...]
Artest said Beasley needs to learn another move on the court.
"He's so athletic and quick and strong," he said. "But eventually somebody's going to catch on to it."
Ron-Ron is many things: former league villain, relentless defender, mental health advocate, etc. But only the most devoted Lakers fans would call him a smart offensive player. This is someone who routinely takes bad shots, pounds the air out of the ball, and dribbles into traffic. So it's a bit goofy to hear him critiquing another player's lack of offensive variety, although I suppose doing lots of ill-advised things is its own kind of diversity.
On the other hand, Beasley seems neither ready nor able to accept Artest's advice:
Beasley, told of Artest's single-move comment, said, "The reason I do the same thing is because they can't stop it. As soon as they stop it, I'll do something else."
Apparently Beasley has a form of basketball obsessive-compulsive disorder and can only focus on one move at a time. Never mind that his versatile scoring at Kansas State is part of what made him such an attractive NBA prospect in the first place, or that most quality defenders in this league are capable of stopping a guy with one move.
Beasley's style will presumably reach a breaking point in a few years when he's exhausted the list of established basketball scoring moves. At that point, he'll be forced to start trying to knock the ball into the basket with his elbow, or maybe just throw it off Darko Milicic's(notes) head and hope for some fortuitous bounces.
It might not work, but at least defenders won't be able to catch on. Then Beasley will have won the battle, if not the greater war.