Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Beasley problem and how to fix it.

If there is one person who has been shafted by the NBA draft system it was Michael Beasley. When Wade went down with a knee injury and Miami stumbled to a 15-67 record in the 07-08 and was given the number 2 draft pick overall it could have been the perfect situation. Think Tim Duncan and David Robinson perfect. But looking back now, it was the worst thing for both Miami and Beasley himself.

The main difference between Duncan and Beasley is that Duncan was a four-year college veteran who came into the league a highly polished rookie with solid fundamentals. Beasley however was a "one-and-done kid"; a stud in college who had never played second fiddle in his life. Beasley needed the chance to strut his stuff most lottery picks are given; first overall pick in the same draft Derrick Rose was handed the keys to the team in his rookie season and now in his second season he is an All-Star. However, when Wade returned he was out to prove he could still be the same player he was, and has admitted recently that he was gunning for the scoring title. With Wade being such a ball-dominant player it left Beasley in an uncomfortable position as supporting cast member and his kindest critics now refer to him as disappointing.

But take a look at the numbers; he is averaging 14.3 ppg and 5.9 rpg over two years. As far as supporting cast members go those are pretty decent numbers. But I think everyone knows how special this kid is, and how much better he can play. But there is no need for Beasley to be a superstar in Miami, and playing with Dwyane Wade is not the way to develop as a player.

Wade is a remarkable basketball player and he won Finals MVP in 2006 when he led Miami to its only championship. The difference between then and now is that in '06 he was leading a veteran team, where most players had developed their own skills already and were ready to contribute when needed. It was the perfect situation for Wade. The situation now is toxic for Beasley.

Put simply, either he or Wade needs to leave. While Wade is a free agent this summer I have a strong belief he will stick around in Miami rather than heading to Chicago (with Beasley's draftmate Rose) or anywhere else and will probably attract Chris Bosh there too. Which means Beasley has to go.

The shakeups in the League caused by the impending free agency extravaganza will leave plenty of teams who cleared cap space to make a bid for Bron or Wade or Bosh with lots of money and nothing to spend it on. And given how many teams shed their players to make a bid at free agents some will be disappointed and will need to gain something to please their fans. Enter Michael Beasley.

Just so you know how good this kid can be, I'll tell you of my most memorable Beasley moment. It was a game against Denver early in the 09/10 season and Wade was taking a rare breather. At this point Melo was playing out of his mind, and was much improved on both ends of the floor. But on three straight runs down the court Beasley was isolated against Melo and scored with a step back jumpshot (twice) and a blow by to the hole. It seemed effortless.

So we have this player who could be a worthy rival for the latest budding superstar in Kevin Durant given their similarity in build and height who hasn't been given a chance to strut his stuff. Below is a list of places I think he should/could go in no particular order.

  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Let's face it, if anyone saw LeBron leave the court after that last loss to the Celtics you saw how he couldn't get that Cleveland jersey off quick enough. He's outta there, whether it be to Chicago, the Nets or Knicks. Which will leave a team used to a ball-dominant small forward and a still respectable supporting cast scrambling for hope. Beasley could be their saviour. Miami needs a reliable scorer and Antawn Jamison could be that guy. Trading Beasley for Jamison would be a win-win. Miami get a veteran running mate for Wade and Cleveland have something to look forward to with a promising young core in JJ Hickson and Michael Beasley.
  • Washington Wizards: The Wizards need to shed Gilbert Arenas. Wall is the face of their future, and having a discontented and unpredictable Arenas lurking around could only be bad for both Arenas and Wall. Miami has been looking for a better point guard for years, and before the suspension this season Arenas was putting up All-Star numbers. If the Heat fail to sign two max-contract free agents they will have more than enough cap space to take on Arenas' giant salary. The Wizards not only get rid of Arenas but they gain a young stud who could work well with a team-oriented future superstar in Wall, who has a rare gift in judging when to score and when not to score.
  • New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets are close to making the playoffs and being relevant again. If Chris Paul comes back healthy they will have the best point guard in the game (sorry Deron Williams) and another who has gotten a taste of running a team and may struggle to adjust to being a benchwarmer again. David West is still reliable and Marcus Thornton will only benefit from the increased attention and playmaking that Paul brings to the table. The ideal situation would be to trade for Beasley. The main attraction for Miami would be Collison, but if the Heat are gearing up for another instant championship, bringing back Posey for another run at it could be just as appealling.
  • Charlotte Bobcats: I admit, when Michael Jordan bought the team I got Bobcat fever, but if their sweep at the hands of Orlando showed me anything it is that they can't win a title with the current roster. Jordan has done a great job of assembling a playoff team with a great coach in Larry Brown (who might be sticking around after Collins got the job in Philadelphia), but they are mainly veterans and castoffs with not a lot of room for growth. As it stands the roster is not going to win a championship, not with an ageing GW and Stephen Jackson. However, they do have some good young talent in Augustin, Henderson, Ty Thomas and Chandler. Add an offensive weapon like Beasley to that lineup and you have a great young core of players who can take over when Jackson in particular calls it quits. Who to give Miami is beyond me, because Jordan might just like this team he has assembled at the moment. But if anyone could make it happen, it would be Jordan.
Obviously, there are a number of other options available to Beasley, and Miami might just keep him in case Wade leaves (which isn't impossible, just unlikely). However, these four teams will be the best for all concerned in my opinion. Whatever happens, I hope this talented young player is given a chance to shine and tap that potential for superstardom he has within him.

Oh, and for God's sake, put him in small forward, a la Kevin Durant.


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