This trade never seemed like a great idea. Obviously, the timing was weird. Why did the Bucks make this trade so soon after Middleton went down? Now, it seemed like an ill-advised attempt to replace their proven 3-and-D sharpshooter and crunch time savior with someone as inconsistent as Beasley. Then, there are the character issues. Why are the Bucks trading away the blossoming, dutiful, and quiet Tyler Ennis with a supposedly temperamental and problematic Michael Beasley? In Bucks language, Beasley’s off-court reputation is on a level similar to Larry Sanders’s. This should have been a huge red flag for a team with many young, impressionable players. Also, even ignoring the timing of the trade and the lack of incoming amiability, Beasley simply did not seem like a good fit. Ever since the rise of the Young Bucks, it has been paramount for the team to put the ball in the hands of their budding stars. With the arrival of high-volume shooter and low-volume scorer Michael Beasley, this plan looked to be on hold.
But alas, Michael Beasley has been nothing other than a helpful presence on the Milwaukee Bucks. So far this season, Beasley is averaging the highest FG% and 3P% numbers of his nine-year NBA career (at 52.3% and 46.7% respectively). Further, his rebound and assist numbers are hovering right below his career average marks. After taking into account that Beasley is only on the court for about sixteen minutes a game (a major decrease from what he’s used to), it’s easy to see how well he’s performing. Check out Beasley’s Per 36 stats here if you’re not convinced.
However, it shouldn’t be Beasley’s points, rebounds, or assists that make you an ardent B-Easy believer like myself. Because, it’s easy to forget that he was drafted second overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, before the likes of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and DeAndre Jordan. High quality play should be expected from this one-time Kansas State superstar. Bust or not, Beasley has always been able to put up solid numbers. So, even when keeping these high individual skill-level expectations in mind, Michael Beasley has been more than formidable for the Milwaukee Bucks. Why?
Coach Kidd trusts Beasley more than anybody should have the right to. Before Beasley’s bout with ankle problems, he was consistently subbing into the game for the Greek Freak. Considering that Giannis is usually the first one out of the game nowadays (a move that started with his early foul troubles but somehow turned into an important part of a reliable rotation), Beasley is the Bucks’ sixth man. Before the season, if someone told be that Michael Beasley would be the Milwaukee Bucks’ sixth man, I would have died right there. But, credit is needed where credit is due: Michael Beasley has exceeded expectations in his new role. He works with teammates, most notably being Parker, to keep the high-powered offense moving after Giannis steps off the court. He rarely goes into Evil Beasley score-first mentality mode, but when he does, it’s usually effective. Beasley simply has an amazing feel for when some ball-hogging isolation offense is needed to cure a Milwaukee dry spell. Even when he shares the court with Giannis (a combo that barely sees the floor together), the results have been promising.
Michael Beasley has even taken it upon himself to become a veteran presence. Look at the bench after any of the Greeky Freaky dunks, a Thon step-back, or a tight-knit defensive possession and you’ll spot Beasley up and cheering for his squad. Beasley seems like he’s genuinely happy to be a part of the 2016-2017 Milwaukee Bucks. You can see him giving tips or bestowing some experienced-based knowledge on Giannis, Jabari, and Brogdon during timeouts or breaks in action. It’s an odd sight for sure, but I think I like it. Beasley has even taken Zaza’s/Bayless’s role as the don’t-you-f***ing-dare-touch-my-teammate guy. Just watch the following clip:
Even if Beasley’s action is slightly over the top, the camaraderie has to make you smile. Bucks players must feel safe knowing the Bease Man is ready to play some fisticuffs when games inevitably get scrappy. I know I would.
Brooding on it now, I think the arrival and continued success of Michael Beasley in Milwaukee follows a sort of recovery storyline. But I’m not talking about Beasley; I’m talking about us, the Bucks fans. Flaws are too often spotlighted: “Beasley is not mature;” “He has a history of in-game aggression;” “He puts up low efficiency stats.” It is way too easy to judge from far away. But Beasley has been proving us wrong since the day he got traded to the Bucks. Slowly, Bucks fans are coming to terms with this “good” Michael Beasley. The fact of the matter is, however, that they never knew a “bad” Michael Beasley. Bucks fans, including myself, heard his name and thought the first things that came to mind: bust, crazy, bad. These are the things we hear from our favorite basketball gurus, so we tend to nod our head and move on to the next headline. But, to most everyone’s surprise, his storyline has been a welcome crack in the well-built wall of supposed secondhand truthfulness. It’s time to acknowledge this, learn from it, and move forward.
Beasley definitely has his flaws, but so do Giannis, Jabari, and Middleton. It’s time to break a bad habit and start talking about his strengths. Do not choose what you want to see, observe the entire picture and form a founded, personal opinion. I, for one, am now a Michael Beasley supporter. How about you?