I can flatly state at this moment that over the span of his Miami Heat career, I will enjoy following no player more than Michael Beasley. Now, I know Dwyane Wade has all the juice (he is in the logo of this here website, after all), but his story has pretty much been written. Long story short; he's really good. But the Heat have a player who's a wild card. I'm willing to bet he's going to be pretty darned good. But how good? Everyone thought after last year's April explosion that "Supercool Beas" was set to develop into the dominant forward everyone thought he would be. Then, a tattoo and a baggy later, the fanbase is split. Especially after head coach Erik Spoelstra insistence of putting Beasley at the four, most people don't know what to make of the young man from Kansas State. So far this season, it doesn't look so good. His perceived contribution is down, he's disappearing in games, and Spoelstra is pulling him off the court in the fourth quarter, a perceived lack of trust in his young science project. But what's really going on here? Take a look at Beasley's post-All-Star Break stats (30 games), then stats from the month of April (nine games), and then this season (eight games). MICHAEL BEASLEY'S STATS, ASSORTED
Note: I did not include pre-All-Star-Break because 50+ games is a pretty decent sample size and he was a rookie, for goodness sakes.
Now, when those who analyze Beasley's numbers this year to last April, it's no comparison. Beasley is not continuing last April's success. But when you look over his last 50 games last year and compare them to his start, the defensive numbers have held up, related to minutes played. More minutes, more average rebounds and blocks. But why have Beasley's offensive numbers dropped like a rock?
No matter which way you look, Michael Beasley's offensive numbers have regressed through the first nine games of this season. Here's my uninformed theory: In an effort to improve on his defense, which many thought was the glaring weakness of his game, his offensive game stagnated. Hell, he told the Wall Street Journal that he'd never even been coached how to play defense before coming to the NBA:
|2009 post-All-Star Break||April 2009||First nine games, 2009-2010 season|
|Minutes per game||25.6||31.3||30.4|
|Points per game||14.8||20.6||13.1|
|Field goal percentage||.501||.553||.404|
|Rebounds per game||5.7||8.6||5.9|
|Blocks per game||.4||.62||.7|
|Fouls per game||2.0||2.4||2.8|
"If you’re playing defense in AAU, you don’t need to be playing," he says. "I’ve honestly never seen anyone play defense in AAU."If you've gone 20 years with no coaching in something, then have to face the best talent in the world head-to-head every night, you'd be focusing a little more on that weakness and ignoring your strength, too. I've been committed and insistent that impatient Heat fans need to sit for a bit and watch Beasley and Chalmers, the two players who get criticized the most, develop in the Association. I think Chalmers is going to be good; I think Beasley's going to be great. But he's still only 20 years old ("My God, that's scary on a personal note," said the 22-year old blogger). You can stew in your juices, complaining how Beasley can't put his stamp on a game yet, or isn't contributing his fair share. Just remember two things: he's entering his second season, and without much of an offensive contribution, the Miami Heat have the second-best record in the Eastern conference.