If you haven’t heard or read by now, chances are you’re not reading this article in the first place. Yet, I preface the article by informing how Michael Beasley, most recently of the Minnesota Timberwolves, agreed to a 3 year / $18 million contract to join your Phoenix Suns (assuming you are indeed a Suns fan; if not, that’s cool, too, bro)!
I really like the Beasley signing. His contract, in NBA standards, is reasonable at only $6 million per year, and his upside is enormous. He was the #2 player selected in the 2008 draft ahead of players such as Russel Westbrook, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, and Brook Lopez who are all now playing on max contracts. It’s hard to say Gordon (4 years / $58 million) or Lopez (4 years / $61 million) are two to three times more valuable than Beasley. In comparison, the Beasley contract is a steal.
In addition, he was drafted number two overall, only behind Derrick Rose, because of his immense talent. Coming out of high school he was the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP (the list of recent MVP winners from the game is quite amazing: check it out). In his one season at Kansas State, he was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and earned NCAA All-American First-Team honors. That year his stats even surpassed Durant’s freshman season from the year before (2007) by averaging 26.2 points (3rd in the nation) and leading the country with 12.4 rebounds per game. He’s still only 23 years old with plenty of time to realize that same potential in the pros he showcased in high school and college.
In fact, part of the problem Beasley has faced in his NBA career, aside from immaturity, is a lack of consistent minutes. In 2010-2011, playing alongside Kevin Love as a starter in Minnesota, he averaged a fairly efficient 19.2 points in 32.3 minutes per game while shooting 45% from the floor. Over four years his career average is 19.5 ppg per 36 mins. In my judgment, his past performance indicates he is a legit 20+ point per game scorer in the league if given the opportunity to log starter’s minutes. In Phoenix, he will have just that opportunity and a nurturing head coach, Alvin Gentry, to accelerate his development.
Gentry has gone as far to suggest Beasley will be a go-to player for the Suns. ”We need that [type of] person. We’ve talked about it a lot. We need that person you can throw the ball to who maybe not necessarily scores the point but makes the play that’s going to win games for you, and I think Michael has the ability to do that.”
Yes, there are downsides to Michael Beasley, like almost anything else in the world. He has a rap sheet of issues off the court, including a history of marijuana use, arrests, and checking into a rehab center in 2009. Nonetheless, I believe the Suns and Beasley are an ideal match. The risk is small. The reward will be substantial, if Beasley accomplishes his full potential. He just might.