Yes, the season is still young and this is all still a small sample size. The Suns have only played 13 games and are still trying to figure things out, having already changed their starting line up and tweaking their rotations.
And yet, something really needs to happen with Michael Beasley. A clean slate for him, we were told, with a coach that can get the best out of him, in a situation where his past (both on court and off court) is forgotten. At $6m a year for three years, it seemed a risk worth taking for a former #2 NBA Draft pick.
So far, that risk has backfired spectacularly. Through 13 games here are his stats: 11.8PPG, 4.8RPG, 2.7APG and woeful shooting percentages of 26% from 3 and 36% overall. Yes, his assists have jumped compared to last year in Minnesota (1.1), but he averages almost as many turnovers (2.6) as assists. His scoring output is the same despite playing 5 whole minutes more per game this season, and his shooting has dropped 11% from 3 and 9% overall.
No matter how you dress that up, it's terrible. His PER of 9.02 ranks 56th amongst all small forwards. Here's a few names of players with PERs slightly higher than his: Richard Jefferson, Jeffery Taylor, Jerry Stackhouse...Josh Childress. Yep, J-Chill has a higher PER (12.06) than Michael Beasley does. That tells you everything you need to know about how badly Beasley is performing.
Only it doesn't. Those stats and that PER seem far too generous based on what we've all seen from him thus far. In a league where a player's motor is vital, his is the polar opposite to Kenneth Faried. He jogs about with seemingly zero hustle, determination and effort, and his offense is largely inefficient long two's. He is benched for entire crunch time quarters and is far from the go to scorer the Suns and some of us envisioned.
I really can't see any positives about Michael Beasley so far. So what can be done?
1. Keep playing him
With a new starting line up, maybe Beasley will finally get involved and start contributing. I don't hold out hope, but for an $18m investment, 13 games is perhaps not enough time, and 2 in a new line up certainly isn't. Staying the course and hoping he figures it out is one option. He made a vow to get to the free throw line more this season, but he needs to start driving to the hoop if that is to happen. He seldom does it, but maybe with time he'll learn how to fit in.
One thing this line up change has shown is that his struggles and Dudley's struggles were unrelated. Dudley and Beasley haven't been on the floor much together in the last two games and Beasley has still been terrible.
2. Bring him off the bench
I was in favour of having him come off the bench for all sorts of reasons, but mainly because it would allow him to play his own ISO game without interfering with Dragic and also Dudley, who had been totally ineffective up until recently when he improved slightly. Gentry chose to keep him in as a starter, but his poor performances have continued. Would he do better off the bench playing largely with Telfair? Probably not, but who knows. I feel there might be only so much of this Gentry will accept before he makes another line up change.
3. Play him at the 4 or 2
The problem with bringing him off the bench now is, where does he play? If we presume that Dudley goes back to the starting line up at SF, that makes the bench unit: O'Neal, Scola, Tucker, Johnson, Telfair. Tucker definitely gets the nod over Beasley at SF in any case.
So could we move Beasley to the 4 ahead of Scola? Supposedly he plays better at the 4 as opposed to the 3, but that effectively makes Scola a DNP-CD and he's much more valuable than that. Could you play him at the 2 and keep Johnson out of the rotation like he currently is? It seems a terrible idea and it probably is...but it's an option.
4. Shut him down for a while
Supposedly he has a finger injury on his shooting hand which is contributing to his poor shots. In that case it might be a good idea to shut him down, hold him out for a while and rest it (if possible) while also giving him a chance to step back and reassess where it's going wrong. Let's be honest, his contributions at present won't be missed, and I'm confident Wesley Johnson could easily fill in in the mean time.
5. Trade him
I can't think of a single team who would happily take on his contract based on what he's shown so far, but it remains a possibility and an option. The earliest the Suns could trade him is December 15th. I don't really have much more to add here. Fire up your trade machines and go mental, but presume that rival GMs would probably need to be totally bladdered to accept any proposal.
Personally, I would just keep playing him. The alternatives are not great, at all. This is Beasley's last chance at forging a decent NBA career. If he blows this chance he's done. With that said you'd have to think that sooner or later he will improve and start to show what he can do.
It's probably going to be painful to watch, but it seems like we'll be stuck with watching inefficient Beasley performances for months to come.