INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 16: Michael Beasley #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves grabs a rebound during the NBA game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 16, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley once was the future of basketball, and at 23 years of age, he still can be. All he has to do is get out of his own way.
Michael Paul Beasley is easily the biggest enigma in The Association. Allow me to get into my emotions for a second.
When Michael Beasley touched down in Manhattan, Kansas and began doing work for the Kansas State Wildcats in 2007, I was convinced that Beasley would be the second coming of what could be an emerging superstar in the game of basketball. 26 points and 12 rebounds a game, an insane ability to finish at the rim and shoot it from deep, there wasn't anything that Beasley couldn't do on the court.
Then his NBA career happened.
Its not to say that his NBA career hasn't been sub-standard, but when you remember how dynamic the man was in college, and that he was drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft behind Derrick Rose, its hard to accept who Michael Beasley is four years later.
A 23-year old jack of all trades, positionless player whom many perceive to be a headcase.
An interesting dialogue was created by the good folks over at Weak Side Awareness, as there's the thought that Beasley is playing out of position. Back at K-State, Beasley was a do-everything power forward. Getting any shot he wanted around the rim and getting shots from three-point range over any defender that tried to guard him. In The Association, he's been branded as a small forward, and as a result he shoots a down of those ridiculous 20-foot jumpers that infuriate anyone who roots for him. (That'd be me.)
Some words from Valley of the Suns who did a fine job of summing this up nicely:
Finally, the piece cites a list of lineups that played together for at least 30 minutes on 82games.com and found all but one above average Beasley lineup has him at the four and 16 of 28 below average lineups have him at the three.
The problem with all this is that Beasley will most certainly be a three in Phoenix as well with an army of power forwards who must play in Luis Scola, Channing Frye and Markieff Morris. With Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal at center, there just aren't many frontcourt minutes to go around.
On the flip side, it's likely Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown will share the two spot, which leaves just Wes Johnson at the three aside from Beasley. In other words, it looks like the Suns will be making the same apparent mistake Miami and Minnesota did.
Now personally I don't believe in "positions" these days so much as the roles players play. Is Dudley a two or a three? Is Johnson a two or a three? Is Frye a four or a five? Does it really matter?
I suppose it might if the Suns keep Beasley on the perimeter taking long twos all day. Perhaps there won't be room to operate on the interior, but with a theoretically smaller defender on him the Suns should make this a priority.
For what it's worth, Beasley and the Suns don't seem to think it matters what position he plays, although based on this Weak Side Awareness analysis perhaps they should.
The Phoenix Suns have somehow turned into the southern Siberia of the NBA. Talented players either go there to wither and die (although Steve Nash was resurrected by the Los Angeles Lakers) or retread stars go there to wither and die. (Hi Shaq.) Of course this is where Michael Beasley needs to be, I mean...its kind of reminiscent of Kansas State, right?
If you're a basketball fan, you want the best for Michael Beasley. In Phoenix, he'll get the opportunity to have plenty of freedom on a team that flat out needs some talent. Beasley's got a ton of that. Can head coach Alvin Gentry find a way to turn Beasley into a productive player and....gulp....be a leader on a team? Crazier things have happened, and the Suns have such a putrid lineup that playing Beasley at the power forward next to a nice big man like Marcin Gortat wouldn't be the worst idea in the world. (Yes I know Robin Lopez is there but seriously...its Robin Bleeping Lopez. Get real.)
The world deserves to see Michael Beasley be a beast in the league once more. His days at Kansas State were beyond mind boggling and I'd hate to forget they even happened. A 23-year old talented man with nothing to lose? Be afraid, be very very afraid.