The Suns season is well under way, and as the team sits now they are 4-5 after a home loss to the Chicago Bulls. The game was a toughly contested battle in which the Suns fell in overtime after a roaring 18 point comeback. In the Suns loss I noticed a few different items that came to my attention. Two of the most glaring issues that stared me down were the erratic use of Michael Beasley, and the coaching staffs philosophy of play the player who's playing hard.
The issues that were apparent to me in the game tonight not only hindered a Suns victory against Chicago, but have also hindered the Suns throughout the entire season so far, sans the Denver game. What I am more interested looking in to is how the inefficient use of Michael Beasley is leading to loss' not only in games, but loss' for the Suns current rebuild.
When Michael Beasley was brought in to the Suns organization, he was supposed to be a budding star that was just a good coach/system away from becoming an NBA all-star. The preseason gave the fan base a taste of what was to come with Michael Beasley and the general feeling began to take hold that Beasley was going to be one of the keys to turn the Suns franchise back into a top contender. The first two games of the season showed promise for Michael Beasley with scoring outputs of 16 against Detroit and 22 against Orlando, with moderately efficient shooting and rebound numbers. This positive start was a direct result of careful handling of Beasley's ego during the off season as well as Gentry ensuring Beasley was in the game getting his shots. Everything was looking good for Michael Beasley, and he seemed to be on pass for a good season, then came the Miami game. Beasley was matched up against the best player in the NBA in Lebron James and Gentry began to become erratic with Beasley's court time. Although this game was out of reach early, it is never good for a players mental attitude when the coach is taking them out of the game early and often in favor of delegating playing duties to the bench.
Now, while the argument can be made that Gentry is simply doing this because Beasley is shooting inefficiently and seems to continue his somewhat low-effort, lax style of play, I feel this is directly hurting the team in a few ways.
For one, Michael Beasley is at the point where this season will more or less define his career. Michael has had a few tough years while bouncing from Miami, to Minnesota all while playing for organizations who didn't give him the proper teachings and respect that he deserved as a high-skill player. At this point, Michael Beasley needs minutes and shots to prove to not only himself, but this Suns organization that he is and can be a superstar in this league.
Lets be honest, the Suns have no real shot at being more than sub .500 team this year, so we have to ask ourselves then, is it really worth risking the development of a fragile, talent, who with proper handling, could in fact become a high level contributor to an NBA organization? Far too many fans seems to be falling into the "Just win baby" attitude of the late Al Davis, where "Win now or leave" is starting to become a general trend for this fan base over the last few weeks. Beasley really has not yet been given a fair shot to really prove himself and averaging a meager 25 minutes a game is not helping him. Looking back into Beasley's past on Minnesota and Miami it seems that Beasley's production threshold is around 30 minutes a game, and during games where he hits this mark or more he becomes a higher level scoring and energy player.
In the NBA, it is very challenging to establish a rhythm in any given game and keep a consistent positive mindset when your coach will be willing to pull you at any sign of trouble during the game.
|In Games Won||4||4||30.5||0.368||0.250||0.750||2.5||4.5||7.0||3.5||0.5||0.8||15.5|
|In Games Lost||4||4||27.0||0.354||0.313||0.714||1.0||2.5||3.5||1.0||0.2||1.0||11.0|
In games won by the Suns this season(4) Beasley's contributions can be directly related the to teams success. When given more minutes, Beasley has shown the ability to produce high scoring output as well as more overall "X-factor" stats, with a better rebound, steal, and assist rate. In games lost this season(4) Beasley has been given overall less minutes in favor of bench players, and this led to lower scoring output, confidence loss, and overall less effort put into the game it seems. Beasley almost seems to give up when his coach gives up on him.
At the point the Suns are at in their rebuild, giving Beasley more playing time and development time would not only help give them an answer on whether he can become the star they are looking for or not, but also help the team overall in their development as a franchise. The team cannot continue to sit talent for effort in order to try and get enough wins to secure Gentrys job, and I feel this team should take a step in the right direction, as tough as it may be, and continue to feed Beasley more minutes until a clearer picture is painted on what he can bring to the table.