Back at it we are, this time covering former NBA finalist Michael Beasley, coming right out of Miami. Will he prove doubters wrong once and for all and showcase his immense talent or will it be just another “meh” season that will just prove those same doubters kinda, sorta right?
The first thing that comes to my mind in gathering up numbers and material for this piece on B-Easy (nice, btw. So nice.) is how we started last season from “MB’s taking huge strides forward, showing more focus on the defensive end” and ended up with the Heat giving up on him again.
This is the keyword: again.
Apparently no inside source has ever reported about particularly evident signs of misconduct coming from the second pick back in the 2008 NBA draft (this being a welcome inconsistency compared to his earlier stints both in and out of Miami), and yet he’s out of the league.
So, yeah, I might cover up some stats from his far too few NBA days and still miss the point by a mile, given that the first thing a stat sheet nerd – granted, one with no knowledge whatsoever of the evergrowing rumours surrounding Beasley from day 1 – would see has to be his 13.2 ppg career average, a very good number.
Percentages don’t look bad, either: 63% close to the hoop (0 to 3 feet from the basket, that is) and 41% from the so-called “long 2 area” are good numbers which will make his Chinese owners salivate.
Let’s dig a bit deeper, then, to find out what contributions he can give to his team, the Shanghai Sharks:
first off, he’s going to play alongside Delonte West; the former St. Joseph standout has actually been really efficient in his season with Fujian, and is bound to make a statement this year in a team recovering from Douby’s loss; if you’re not the guy who reads a stat sheet just to the points per game line, you’ll see how great his West’s season was, most of all coming from an individual whose conduct wasn’t less doubted than Beasley’s.
Nonetheless, West stayed active in every aspect of his game, corralling more than 5 boards per game and dishing almost 6 assists a game (although to better teammates than the ones he’ll most likely play alongside in Shanghai).
On the basis of Delonte’s example, it’s not uncommon that players who have been subpar in their NBA careers eventually feel somewhat obligated by the much larger heap of responsibility to get more involved in rebouds and defense. Much more disperse are the ones who manage to maintain good assist numbers, since non-established Chinese players will rarely shoot if they’re not wide open, a circumstance that nonetheless will occur more often than in other leagues thanks to the fact that perimeter defense happens not to be the average Chinese baller’s bread and butter, to put it mildly.
Beasley’s percentages will make a good résumé for his shots in the league, but his rebounding numbers have to improve big time for two reasons.
The first is really a league-wide necessity: foreign big men must corral boards, and Shanghai doesn’t have access to a third import. They have Max Zhang, who is comparatively good at grabbing boards (around 8 per game), but has excelled in scenarios where he wasn’t their main rebounder by any stretch. And this time there’s no Chinese system’s flaw to blame: he’s a shotblocker and a rim protector. You rarely demand mind-blowing rebounding numbers by your best interior defender, since of course most of the times you can either contest/block/flat out send a shot to the stands or corral a board, not both.
The second, alas, is Shanghai’s biggest weakness: their three-point shooting. This team has dwelled the gutters of the league for too long in terms of percentages from deep (bottom four in the league in the last three seasons), and unless Song Gonglin,Yang Jinming and Qi Feng make an impact for this team shooting the deep ball, which is unlikely given that the only real shooter is Song and his percentages have dropped dramatically from 40,5% in 2012 to 31% last season, the flaw is there to stay. West isn’t an efficient deep range shooter, either, and will surely do a great favor to his team by staying aggressive and getting to the paint, where his percentages have been very flattering (56,7%) for a 6’3″ guard. Does that mean that the burden of providing three pointers belongs to Beasley himself? Hopefully it won’t, at least on a regular basis, since he’s 34,8% for his career from downtown, meaning that he kinda can make a three pointer but you wouldn’t have him shooting them too often.
We’ve already said that he’s better from the midrange area and might want to make a good number of shots from there. What we haven’t said is that Shanghai has had, at least recently, a positive record only when their poor shooting was compensated by good numbers across the boards; that is why Beasley might just not fit the team so well, aside from the fact that he’ll get high numbers anyway because that is just what he’s asked to do. After all, make no mistake: he’s undoubtedly one of the most talented players the CBA has ever seen on court.
And if we let sink in how many former NBA centers (no, not just “big men”: centers) will wear Chinese uniforms – Kravtsov, Haddadi, Orton, Raduljica aren’t bad names at all – having deep threats OR good rebounding will be key, and boards are going to be harder to get.
I was also about to write “more NBA-caliber or NBA-curriculum players should mean more disciplined play”, but then i thought about Donte Greene and, eh, I’ll pass this time.
Prediction: 23ish ppg, <50% from the field, <9 rpg.