Michael Beasley v. Expectations

We’ve all made mistakes: CBS and NBC passing on Monday Night Football, Britney Spears shaving her head, and people actually paying to see Jack and Jill.  As for myself, I made a mistake that many fell into.  I was a huge believer in Michael Beasley. The former number two overall pick has now resurfaced in Memphis, making it his fourth stop in seven seasons. Nobody has ever denied the immense talent Beasley possesses. But with Beasley bouncing from team to team and making little impact, I finally have to ask. Is the potential of the once highly touted K-State freshman dead and gone, or does his career still have a pulse?

The Case for:

There are some things we all regret, but few could have predicted Beasley panning out to be the bust he’s become.  In his lone year at Kansas State he averaged 26 points per game while shooting above 50 percent from the field.  After getting picked by a solid Miami squad, his first two seasons showed an abundance of promise, missing only a combined four games and averaging close to 15 points and six boards.  Despite being shipped to a mediocre Minnesota team, he was still producing solid numbers on a squad where he was asked to do much more than he was in Miami.  He averaged right around 19 points and six rebounds, and when he got in the zone he could give defenses more problems than Jay-Z could handle.  Beasley has the ability to stroke it from the outside, slash, and go to the line as reliable free throw shooter. While he might not have been doing it on a top tier team, he was getting the job done and doing what was asked of him on that end of the floor. Beasley has gotten himself into some trouble, but at 25 years of age, things could turn around for this young athlete if he plays in a winning environment.

The Case Against:

Beasley is a lot like Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother in the sense that he looks good, but can’t be trusted.  Soon after he came into the league, Beasley took several hits to his résumé, including a string of marijuana-related arrests, a sexual assault investigation, and getting pulled over for speeding with—what was later discovered—a loaded gun in his car. Beasley has been given chance after chance, and while we’ve seen many players that have benefitted from a change of scenery, trouble has followed Beasley no matter what city he’s landed in.  Couple that with a big drop in production, and there seems to be little evidence to compel teams to take a risk on Beasley.  His points per game average has been on a steady decline over the last three seasons, and his field goal percentage has decreased two of the last three.  Not to mention that Beasley’s defense, or lack thereof, is still in line with that of a bull fighter.  He’s gone from a dynamic, exciting scorer, to a streaky, troublemaking replaceable stock character.  It’s hard to turn a guy away with that much talent, but it’s even harder to take a guy in with that kind of track record.

The Verdict: One More Chance

As I said, we all make mistakes. Admittedly, there’s a good chance I’m making another one right now, but I think it’s worth it. Lets look at the facts of the case. Will Michael Beasley ever live up to the expectations some gave him coming out of college, no. Will he ever become an All-Star and the mature leader of a winning team, not likely. But now that teams know Beasley doesn’t have to be the guy, the pressure is somewhat off.  Now entering his seventh season, Beasley is a young 25 years of age and a talented scorer.  With teammates like Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol shouldering the load, Beasley will likely come off the bench and have the chance to be a great source of firepower to have in the second unit: a role that would suit him perfectly.  The sad truth is that this could be Beasley’s last chance to prove himself with many already in the school of thought that his time has come and passed.  If Beasley can’t get his act together now, then he may be forced to wander as a journeyman for the rest of his days.  Which will eternally leave one question seared into our brains, “What could have been?” This court has made its ruling, now Mr. Beasley gets to go prove people right or wrong on the court.

Follow David on Twitter @Dshug24 and listen to him on “The Friday Morning Blitz” Fridays from 10-11 am.