Before this season, when someone would bring up Michael Beasley, what were your immediate thoughts about the player? I’ll tell you mine. I thought he was selfish, I thought he was a cancer in the locker room, and I didn’t think he’d find any success in the NBA again. If you brought to my attention that he averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes for the Rockets last season, I would have said “Who cares? It was just 20 games. ” When the Bucks traded Tyler Ennis for Beasley, my concern was that we traded for a guy that’s going be a black hole with the basketball and a poison to the young guys in the locker room.
Well, I was way off base, wasn’t I? Before we get to how wrong I was, let me provide you some information on Michael Beasley and the root my pessimism.
Michael Beasley’s career up to this point fell exceptionally short of what should have been. One of the greatest freshman in college basketball history, and he just kind of floated around the league. His 2010 season wasn’t terrible, he averaged 19 points and 6 rebounds but he was going 7/17 on a nightly basis. There was no efficiency in his game. He was all flash and no substance. 2010 was his best season as a pro, and he was still just a shell of his college self. In 2011, he played just 47 games. In 2012, for Phoenix, he had an absolutely pathetic 10.8 Player Efficiency Rating. In 75 games he averaged 4 makes on 10 shots, not exactly efficient. From 2013 to 2016 he only played in 99 NBA games. So, why would any Bucks fan have hope for this guy? Because he wasn’t terrible for 20 games in Houston? Well, it wasn’t the games in Houston. It was the games in Shandong, China that changed Michael Beasley.
The Shandong Golden Stars. This was the team where Michael Beasley became Michael Beasley again. 32 points. 13 rebounds. 4 assists. 2 steals. 1 block. Those were Beasley’s averages in China. He looked like he was in college again. Look at these Highlights. Okay, maybe you’re thinking that’s because the talent level may have been worse compared to his college competition, you’re probably right. But the two most important things he learned in China didn’t come on the basketball court. They were humility and confidence. First, let’s talk about confidence. Michael Beasley has always had skill, there’s no denying that. But for years he wasn’t seeing his shot fall. He wasn’t hustling. He didn’t care. But in China every single night his shot was going in. He was driving. He was blocking shots, and getting steals. He went on to win the Foreign MVP in the CBA for the 2015-2016 season. Even more important than his play on the court, he got his life together as well. From 2008-2014 he always seemed like he was in trouble. Marijuana possession, fan altercations, fleeing a scene, sexual assault accusations, all of these things are in Michael Beasley’s past. When nobody wanted him anymore, Michael Beasley went to China. Since then, he has had a spotless record. It’s almost as if he’s become a completely different person in 3 years.
Here’s where I talk about where I was wrong.
In his short time in Milwaukee, Beasley has been an amazing leader on and off the court. He now understands what it means to be a veteran on a young basketball team, as seen in this Fox Sports Wisconsin interview. And in addition to that, he’s now the guy that goes out to interact with the fans and veterans of Milwaukee (https://twitter.com/Bucks/status/797091769594748929).
The first moment I realized I may have been wrong about Beasley, was the night Thon Maker made his Bradley Center debut. The first three Thon Maker hit came off of an assist from Beas. The Bucks were up 14 with a minute left, he didn’t have to pass. But he knew who was in. He found Thon on the wing and Thon buried his first three. Seconds later, Thon hits another. Who was celebrating in the back like every fan in the Bradley Center? Beas. Beasley is a fan of these young guys, and he wants to get them involved and wants to help them win. It isn’t about him anymore, and he doesn’t want it to be. If he needs to go out and get 20, he’ll go do it. Not because he wants the stats, because it will help the team. This stretch of play since his 20 games with the Rockets isn’t just a flash in the pan. It’s for real.
All of my doubts about Beas should be laid to rest. I didn’t think he could possibly help the team in any way. When in reality, he is the key cog in the 2016-2017 Bucks machine. Yes, this team is struggling. Yes, they’re going to have to scratch and claw their way to a playoff spot. But we have a guy who knows what it’s like to scratch and claw his way back to where he wants to be. When Jabari went down, everyone’s eyes went to Beasley. He’s the guy that will get the squad going. Beasley recently had his own injury as well. Thankfully, it sounds like he will only miss a few games. At one point Beas, I was one of your biggest detractors. Now, I’m saying this. We need you Beas, get healthy and ready to go!