PHOENIX — Michael Beasley won’t read this article, so it might meander into why his topsy-turvy season is the way it is. Though his two-game streak of excellence might come to a crashing halt tomorrow, next week or next season, it’s interesting enough to understand Beasley — at least, it’s fun to try.
There’s a reason I pegged the Suns’ season on Beasley, and there’s a reason I still believe his $18 million, three-year contract isn’t all that absurd. The Suns clobbered a very good Warriors team early with two dominating scorers leading the way and despite a 14-point third quarter had a chance to win. Beasley playing well changes the Suns’ outlook entirely.
|Garrett assigned to D-League|
The Suns announced on Saturday that point guard Diante Garrett will head to the Bakersfield Jam for his second stint with the D-League squad. He averaged 15.1 points and 7.4 assists with the Jam in his seven-game assignment previously.
And for the same reasons the Denver Nuggets took a $44 million risk on JaVale McGee (who, by the way, agrees with Beasley that Wild Berry Skittles are bomb), the Suns still have time to perhaps find out what makes Beasley tick.
In the last two games, they have.
Lindsey Hunter believes Beasley’s success is due to tough love. But why he doesn’t exactly know what connects with Beasley can be explained by Beasley’s odd reasoning for his own success juxtaposed to Hunter’s guess.
So why is Beasley playing unforced and confident basketball?
“Stop listening to people,” Beasley said. “Do what I know how to do. That’s what it is. The more I listen to people, the more I got to think about. Sometimes it messed me up, trying to think about 1,000 things. Stop listening to people. Start trusting my instincts again.”
OK, that makes sense. Basketball talent is habit built through repetition. That leads to instinct. Asked who exactly he’s not listening to, Beasley said, “everybody.”
“I don’t really read your articles — sorry,” he told us after the Suns’ 111-107 loss to Golden State. “But, just everybody. From my friends, to family, to teammates, to coaches. Just everybody. Everybody telling me, ‘You need to do that. You need to do that.’
“I’m the one playing. I’m the one controlling my fate.”
This came after Hunter said he had been riding Beasley for the past few weeks, and he linked it to the forward’s success. Hunter said the game against the Clippers was Beasley’s most complete. He scored only 13 points in 17 minutes and hit 5-of-8 shots to go with three assists in that one, and the natural instinct showed. So too did his focus on the defensive end.
Does his defense help his offense? Vice versa?
“I don’t look at him and say one helps the other because you never know,” Hunter said. “I just know that game, he was really asserting himself defensively. One time he was guarding Blake (Griffin) and he pushed him off the block and he guarded him. It was the best we’ve seen. I shared with him, I said, ‘Man I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you and I’m mad at you at the same time, because you could’ve been doing this all along.’ ”
On Friday night, Beasley poured in 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Though he had six turnovers, including a crucial coughing-up of the ball with a two-point deficit that led to Jarrett Jack’s dagger of a three-pointer, it was nonetheless impressive.
Hunter guessed that Beasley’s noticeable assertiveness in practice has been about two weeks long. Over the past 10 games, the forward has quietly shot 52 percent and averaged 11.6 points per game in just under 19 minutes per outing. The Suns’ interim coach, whose talents in his young career lie in player guidance, said he’s been working on keeping Beasley focused.
“I’ll randomly just ask him, ‘What did a certain coach just say?’ just to keep him focused,” Hunter said. “And he’s like, ‘Coach, I’m not talking.’ I say, ‘I know. But you’re listening to somebody, you’re doing something.’ ”
Apparently, he’s not listening anymore. Asked to clarify that he wasn’t listening to his coaches, Beasley held true to his words.
“Yeah, definitely (not listening),” he said. “I’m the one out there fighting. The coach can tell me what he see from a third-party perspective, I’m seeing it first-hand.
Whatever works, I guess.
Mark Jackson backs up Hunter’s comparison
Lindsey Hunter, when he took over for Alvin Gentry, said Goran Dragic reminded him of a point guard version of Manu Ginobili. On Friday, Mark Jackson seconded that.
“To me he’s, with all due respect, a poor man’s Manu Ginobili from the point guard position,” the Warriors coach said. “Great first step, great change of speed, lulls you to sleep, attacks the rim, can score, can facilitate – tough matchup. And great toughness. He’s had a heck of a season.”
Hunter on the skirmish against the Clippers: “It didn’t bother me one way or the other. If you saw my reaction, you can tell it didn’t bother me. Sometimes that happens – when guys get a little carried away with plays – sometimes you have to let them know that it’s not OK. So I think that’s what that was.”