Can Beasley Keep It Up?


Jan. 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley (left) talks with interim head coach Lindsey Hunter in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Clippers 93-88. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since Lindsey Hunter took over as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns, Michael Beasley has become a different player but can Beasley sustain his recent great play? In the five games under head coach Lindsey Hunter, Beasley is averaging 18.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and is shooting an highly efficient 53.4% from the field despite averaging only 24.4 minutes per game throughout. 

“I’m just playing aggressive,” Beasley said after the win against the Lakers last night. “I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. No more nonchalant Beas. I’m back to the Beast.”

This may come as a surprise to some, but Beasley’s sudden turnaround shouldn’t come as shocking as some individuals are making it out to be.

Prior to Hunter’s promotion to head coach, he was the head of player’s development which means it was Hunter who was constantly working with guys like Michael Beasley, Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris and others. It’s imminent at this point Hunter has been the key to Beasley’s success.

Jan. 30, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley (0) takes a shot under pressure from Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard in the second half at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 92-86. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Beasley was incredible tonight,” Hunter said of Beasley’s performance against the Lakers. “He’s been working really hard to get to this point and I really see promise in his future and just continue to encourage him.”

Beasley’s talent was never in question. In fact, if someone uttered the words “Michael Beasley is as talented as Kevin Durant” They would have a legitimate statement because the fact of the matter is that Beasley ACTUALLY POSSESS THAT LEVEL OF TALENT but guys like Durant work their tail off in the gym, they work their tail off in practice, they have zero tolerance for off-court distractions, and they possess a burning desire to be great! Beasley doesn’t do that. 

ESPN’s Chris Palmer tweeted this last night “Beasley with LeBron’s work ethic equals Melo”.

Beasley’s Achilles heel has always been his attitude, his work ethic, and his commitment to excellence which is ultimately why he’s the player is today.

One play that’s resonated with me whenever I think of Michael Beasley took place a couple of seasons ago, when Beasley was still with Minnesota; the Minnesota Timberwolves played the Suns in Phoenix that season. The Suns were up 121-119 with time winding down, and Michael Beasley scored a lay-up and got the foul, Beasley would then scream out “I’M NICE!! I’M NICE!!” Flexing his muscles, stomping his feet, and letting everyone know how good he is. Beasley would then step up to the foul-line to shoot the free-throw that would put Minnesota ahead by a point with unless than ten seconds left but Beasley would go on to miss the free-throw and the Timberwolves lost to the Suns in overtime.

That one scenario right there, sums up Beasley’s career in a nutshell. In one play, Beasley gave his team a chance to win the ball-game but almost immediately Beasley took that chance away. To quote NFL legend Mike Ditka “Lay-off the celebrate and act like you’ve done it before, that’s childish, that’s an amateur act!” 
At this point, the Suns are still seeking for that cornerstone player and even if they’re some how able to secure the number one overall draft this June, odds are they won’t find a player with more talent or potential than Michael Beasley.

Jan. 14, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball during the game against Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley (0) in the first half at US Airways Center. The Thunder defeated the Suns 102-90. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Beasley’s size, strength, athleticism, and ball skills are all essential attributes of a star level player but he’s the only person who hone in on his potential and talent and mold it into production. When it’s all said and done, potential is just a word for “Ain’t done nothing yet” And thus far that’s what Beasley has done, nothing.

Beasley’s recent stellar performances are certainly positive signs but it remains to be seen if he can continue to perform at a high level. It’s tough to imagine after one coaching change Beasley will suddenly become a great player but with his talent and his young age, there’s still a snowball’s chance of him living up to his potential.

Hunter has been a positive influence on all of the Suns young players, but Hunter’s influence upon Michael Beasley has been the most evident. The Michael Beasley we all witnessed last night is a glimpse of Beasley’s ceiling as a player, an efficient scorer who can take over a game, rebound, play adequate defense and has capable abilities as a play-maker. 

Michael Beasley is currently on a three-year 18 million dollar contract which runs through the 2014-2015 season. Should Beasley continue to play at this level, no doubt he’d be a steal given how much the Suns are paying him. It’ll be up to Lindsey Hunter to hold Beasley accountable for his play but more importantly Beasley needs to start holding himself accountable both on and off the court. Can Michael Beasley become a player of Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Durant’s caliber? That’s up to Michael Beasley.