While Minnesota has been haunted since Kevin Garnett left for Boston, Michael Beasley has long been knocked as a shoot-first, look-for-teammates-later kind of player. This season, signs are showing that the T-Wolves’ rebirth is changing the way we think of Beasley, too.
The following interview can be seen in its entirety in the current issue, Dime #68.
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Hello, and thanks so much for coming, everyone, down to NBA Fan Central. Can everyone hear me? We’re really glad you took the time to be a part of our survey today, and sit anywhere you want on the left there.
Comfortable? Great. Well, we know you’re all excited about this, and so we’re going to kick it off with some discussion topics. Word association. Great – and we want this to be informal so just yell out with your thoughts about the topic.
Oh boy. Sorry everyone, but can we all be a little more calm? We value your opinions, but maybe we should raise hands instead.
No, there is no physical NBA Fan Central where fans talk about the game’s most mercurial players. But whether it’s on the Internet or how we feel within our hearts, from diehards to seasonal drop-ins, discussions won’t range much wider than when talking about Minnesota’s fourth-year forward.
After bouncing around high schools and one year at Kansas State, the 6-8 scorer is one of the league’s undisputed best at finding his own shot. He averages 15.8 points in 28 minutes per game for his career, and in 2010-11 was 15th best in the league in scoring per minutes played, putting up 21.4 per 36 minutes played. To put it bluntly, he is an unapologetic scorer.
He’s a black hole with the ball. He’d only see an open teammate if he was in the hoop. He’s such a defensive liability an insurance policy wouldn’t cover him.
They might say that. But is it possible to see a player, who by his own admission, wants nothing more to do than a chance to ball and get better? We caught up with Beasley just weeks after he’d come back from a foot injury that cost him 11 games. With his rookie contract expiring at the end of the season, Beasley knows lost time now to show he’s improved his game and his troubles off the court means fewer chances later. He knows his weak spots, and knows his strengths – and he’s working on one just as much as the other.
That leaves less of a desire to discuss the past. He’d rather talk about what’s ahead instead, and why shouldn’t he? Minnesota is no longer an NBA outpost up north. Kevin Love signed a four-year extension in January, and Ricky Rubio’s laser passes put the ball in the hands of high-flying youngsters Derrick Williams and Wesley Johnson.
You can see why Beasley has taken to this year’s roster; the Timberwolves are what Beasley hopes to be. Fast, cool, up-and-coming, and able to change an impression with the swish of a jump shot.
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Dime: What’s the feeling like on the team this year?
Michael Beasley: It’s better inside the locker room because everyone’s so cool and everybody wants to see each other get better.
Dime: Is that a feeling that’s different than any other team you’ve been on?
MB: Yeah, but no. I say yeah because I’m actually a part of the rebuilding process. In Miami, when I got there, there were a couple players established and [Dwyane] Wade was a multi-time All-Star. Like you said, we started from the bottom and now we’re on the rise. Miami was one of those groups of veteran guys – Udonis [Haslem], Jermaine (O’Neal), Wade – but here we’ve all grown together. Our oldest players are Brad Miller (35) and Luke [Ridnour] who’s 30. We got four or five players on the team between 21 and 24. Us being so young it’s good, and we’re all the same age. We get to grow in life as well.
Dime: After you missed 11 games with the foot injury, you came off the bench, scoring 34 against Houston. Is that a role you’re okay with?
MB: I’m just trying to find my rhythm individually. As a team, we go with our camaraderie and we’re meshing well together. Individually, we have to find our rhythm.