For the first time since 2003, the Phoenix Suns will officially kick off their season with Media Day and a trip to training camp without their captain Steve Nash. Instead an entirely new roster will...

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Taking on players who failed on other teams is always a risk and that's 100 percent the case with new Suns forward Michael Beasley. 420 percent.

When Phoenix traded for Hedo Turkoglu, the Raptors and their fans couldn't be happier to see him gone. That didn't work out so well for the Suns. When Channing Frye signed in Phoenix there weren't many people who thought his disappointing career was not going to disappoint in his home town. That worked out pretty well for the Suns.

There are also some guys, Jason Richardson comes to mind, where the final verdict is never so clear. After his first season (partial season) in Phoenix, he was a bust. The next year he was easily the playoff MVP for a Suns team that made it to the Western Conference Finals. The year after, he was traded to Orlando and hasn't done much since.

In other words, who knows?

Well, Glen Taylor certainly knows and in a refreshingly/ridiculously candid interview, he explained why Beasley was shown the door.

Here's Taylor relaying coach Rick Adelman's thoughts on Beasley:

"What Rick said about Michael was, ‘Yes, Michael has been good. I get along with him. But I don't think we'll be a championship team with him. If I put Michael in, Michael can score, but he doesn't play any defense and he forgets the other offensive players, and I just can't tolerate that under my system because the other players are just standing around.'"

Your immediate reaction to hearing from the Timberwolves on anything related to player personnel decisions should be something along the lines of, "What the hell do those fools know?"

Fair enough, the Wolves haven't exactly been the model in running a winning franchise.

Then again, Adelman is generally a respected coach and nothing he said about Beasley should come as a surprise.

The book on Beasley's career is what it is (and what Adelman said). His former coach via his former owner only confirms what we already knew from watching him. Black hole on offense. No defense.

We'll hear a lot from Beasley and Gentry and the rest of the Suns at media day about "new beginnings" and "fresh starts."

We'll have to watch and see if young Michael has changed his ways or at least shows signs of development.


20120414_jel_aj5_415_standard_1349067986_400

Michael Beasley dominated in his one and only year in college. At Kanas State, Beasley scored on anyone and everyone that tried to check him. That offensive ability is what led to the Miami Heat taking him with the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

However, after his first four years in the NBA, he still hasn’t figured things out. Beasley spent his first two years in Miami playing power forward and the last two seasons in Minnesota as a small forward, but things didn’t really click for him in either place or at either position.

In reviewing some of his plays, it is pretty clear why he has struggled. A huge part of his poor play is on him and his decision-making. However, I believe the position he was put in, particularly in Minnesota, has played a large part as well.

As I wrote when Beasley was signed, he is not the guy many think he is. He is not a go-to offensive player in the traditional sense of someone you can give the ball to and expect a bucket or a foul. He’s not a great creator of offense from the perimeter. For a small forward, Beasley is not a particularly good ball-handler, nor is he a good passer.

That being said, the talent that made him a high pick is still there. He can still put points on the board and when he heats up, he is tough to slow down. The task the Suns are faced with is putting Beasley in position to play to his strengths without him trying to do too much.

ISOLATION

Beasley’s isolation ability separates him from the other wings on the roster, and this is an area that he certainly can help Phoenix’s offense. However, to feature him in this role would be a mistake.

Here’s an example of a positive isolation play by Beasley (all screen caps taken from footage from MySynergySports.com).

Iso_good_1_medium

In this play we see Beasley isolated in the corner. He has the entire left side of the court with which to work since the other four Wolves and their defenders were on the other side.

Iso_good_2_medium

Beasley gives his defender a jab-step then uses his long strides to blow by his defender. As you can see, the only defender in position to help is Indiana’s diminutive point guard Darren Collison.

Iso_good_3_medium

At this point Beasley has already beaten his man. He sweeps in and uses his length to finish over the help defense. Great play by Beasley, two points for Minnesota.

However, when you give the ball to Beasley in isolation, prepare for plenty of derps as well. Here’s a play showing a shot that Beasley takes far too often.

Iso_bad_1_medium

There are a few things that needed to be pointed out here. First, take a look at the shot clock: there are still 20 seconds left, so no need to hurry. Second, by my count all five Nuggets are back on defense, while Beasley only has two of his teammates up the court with him.

Iso_bad_2_medium

Instead of waiting for his teammates to get down the court to set up the offense, Beasley decides to take it himself. Making things even worse, he decides to drive to his right - where the help defense is – instead of going left – where the court is wide open. His drive gets shut down by two Nuggets, and the other three are also hanging around the paint. That means Beasley has three teammates wide open around the perimeter. So what does he do?

Iso_bad_3_medium

He takes a step-back, fade-away, 19-foot jump shot. Clank.

This is a recurring problem with Beasley. First, he does not move the ball nearly as often as he should. Second, he settles for far too many jump shots. Part of that is the lack of quickness and advanced ball-handling; he just can’t beat his man off the dribble all that often. And I don’t know if it’s an ego thing or poor basketball IQ, but it seems to me Beasley thinks those are good shots.

POST

This is the area the Suns will want to get Beasley plenty of touches this year. Beasley can be a mismatch while posting up, either operating out of the high post or taking advantage of his size down on the block.

Here's an example of a play where Beasley gets the ball in the high post.

Hi-post_1_w_pen_medium

Beasley sets up at the elbow and receives the pass from J.J. Barea, who runs to the corner to give Beasley space to go to work on Corey Brewer.

Hi-post_2_medium

Beasley turns and faces up on Brewer. He has a size and strength advantage here, and with an explosive first step and long strides he gets past him. The other Nuggets defenders have to respect the shooting ability of Anthony Tolliver and Martell Webster on the weak side and are too slow in rotating to help out their teammate.

Hi-post_3_medium

Again, Beasley uses his length and explosiveness to go up and finish over the top of the defense for two points.

As a former power forward, Beasley can also be effective down on the block. Here's a smart play by Beasley down low.

Lo-post_1_w_pen_medium

Beasley has a big mismatch here with shooting guard Courtney Lee trying to check him in the post. Houston's Kyle Lowry is in no man's land defensively right now, looking to double but not coming hard or fully committing.

Lo-post_2_medium

Beasley recognizes the mismatch and backs the smaller Lee down. Lowry left Ricky Rubio and is coming down to double, while Samuel Dalembert is waiting in the lane. But neither are in position to stop a quick move by Beasley.

Lo-post_3_medium

Beasley uses a drop step and spins baseline, away from the defense. He then elevates over the top and finishes at the basket. Lowry is too late to stop him and by going baseline he takes Dalembert out of the play. It's a one-on-one with Lee, and the 6-foot-5 shooting guard is just too small to stop Beasley.

CUT

With Beasley's length, athleticism and shooting touch he can be very effective slashing off the ball. The last play I have here is Beasley cutting in for an easy two points.

Cut_1_medium

This play starts after an offensive rebound by the Timberwolves. The Minnesota player has the ball in the corner and is surveying the court. Beasley realizes A) that his defender is playing off of him and B) that the middle of the floor is wide open. Beasley cuts hard to the paint and gives his teammate an open target.

Cut_2_medium

Beasley catches the ball as Dunleavy tries to recover and get back in front of him. However, Beasley is too explosive and keeps his momentum going towards the hoop.

Cut_3_medium

Beasley again elevates and finishes over the top of both Dunleavy and the big man under the basket who tried to help.

Although Beasley is not so adept at creating offense off the dribble, he can be devastating when you get him on the move. His size and athleticism make him tough to stop. He's much more effective when he only has to use one or two dribbles to get to the rim.

Putting it all Together

There is no doubting Michael Beasley's talent. He's capable of heating up and dominating like no one else on this Suns roster.

However, for him to be that guy more often than he has been thus far it is going to take a joint effort by Beasley and the team. Alvin Gentry and Goran Dragic must put Beasley in position to play to his strengths, but Beasley also has to be willing to be used in that way.

If the Suns let Beasley stand out on the wing most of the game and just do whatever he wants, nothing will change. Asking him to create offense off the dribble on a regular basis is a recipe for disaster.

Beasley needs to do his work off the ball. He needs to get his shots in the post and on the move rather than on the wing. He needs to be a finisher more than a creator.

The ball-stopping and bad jump shots need to stop. There is definitely a place for Beasley in this new Suns offense, but Beasley has to be willing to make the necessary adjustments.

What say you Bright Side of the Sun? How will Gentry use Beasley? Will we see a new man, or the same old Beasley? The answers to these questions could be the difference between hope for the future and a disappointing season.


Gyi0062834724_standard_1349101733_400

Michael Beasley dominated in his one and only year in college. At Kanas State, Beasley scored on anyone and everyone that tried to check him. That offensive ability is what led to the Miami Heat taking him with the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

However, after his first four years in the NBA, he still hasn’t figured things out. Beasley spent his first two years in Miami playing power forward and the last two seasons in Minnesota as a small forward, but things didn’t really click for him in either place or at either position.

In reviewing some of his plays, it is pretty clear why he has struggled. A huge part of his poor play is on him and his decision-making. However, I believe the position he was put in, particularly in Minnesota, has played a large part as well.

As I wrote when Beasley was signed, he is not the guy many think he is. He is not a go-to offensive player in the traditional sense of someone you can give the ball to and expect a bucket or a foul. He’s not a great creator of offense from the perimeter. For a small forward, Beasley is not a particularly good ball-handler, nor is he a good passer.

That being said, the talent that made him a high pick is still there. He can still put points on the board and when he heats up, he is tough to slow down. The task the Suns are faced with is putting Beasley in position to play to his strengths without him trying to do too much.

ISOLATION

Beasley’s isolation ability separates him from the other wings on the roster, and this is an area that he certainly can help Phoenix’s offense. However, to feature him in this role would be a mistake.

Here’s an example of a positive isolation play by Beasley (all screen caps taken from footage from MySynergySports.com).

Iso_good_1_medium

In this play we see Beasley isolated in the corner. He has the entire left side of the court with which to work since the other four Wolves and their defenders were on the other side.

Iso_good_2_medium

Beasley gives his defender a jab-step then uses his long strides to blow by his defender. As you can see, the only defender in position to help is Indiana’s diminutive point guard Darren Collison.

Iso_good_3_medium

At this point Beasley has already beaten his man. He sweeps in and uses his length to finish over the help defense. Great play by Beasley, two points for Minnesota.

However, when you give the ball to Beasley in isolation, prepare for plenty of derps as well. Here’s a play showing a shot that Beasley takes far too often.

Iso_bad_1_medium

There are a few things that needed to be pointed out here. First, take a look at the shot clock: there are still 20 seconds left, so no need to hurry. Second, by my count all five Nuggets are back on defense, while Beasley only has two of his teammates up the court with him.

Iso_bad_2_medium

Instead of waiting for his teammates to get down the court to set up the offense, Beasley decides to take it himself. Making things even worse, he decides to drive to his right - where the help defense is – instead of going left – where the court is wide open. His drive gets shut down by two Nuggets, and the other three are also hanging around the paint. That means Beasley has three teammates wide open around the perimeter. So what does he do?

Iso_bad_3_medium

He takes a step-back, fade-away, 19-foot jump shot. Clank.

This is a recurring problem with Beasley. First, he does not move the ball nearly as often as he should. Second, he settles for far too many jump shots. Part of that is the lack of quickness and advanced ball-handling; he just can’t beat his man off the dribble all that often. And I don’t know if it’s an ego thing or poor basketball IQ, but it seems to me Beasley thinks those are good shots.

POST

This is the area the Suns will want to get Beasley plenty of touches this year. Beasley can be a mismatch while posting up, either operating out of the high post or taking advantage of his size down on the block.

Here's an example of a play where Beasley gets the ball in the high post.

Hi-post_1_w_pen_medium

Beasley sets up at the elbow and receives the pass from J.J. Barea, who runs to the corner to give Beasley space to go to work on Corey Brewer.

Hi-post_2_medium

Beasley turns and faces up on Brewer. He has a size and strength advantage here, and with an explosive first step and long strides he gets past him. The other Nuggets defenders have to respect the shooting ability of Anthony Tolliver and Martell Webster on the weak side and are too slow in rotating to help out their teammate.

Hi-post_3_medium

Again, Beasley uses his length and explosiveness to go up and finish over the top of the defense for two points.

As a former power forward, Beasley can also be effective down on the block. Here's a smart play by Beasley down low.

Lo-post_1_w_pen_medium

Beasley has a big mismatch here with shooting guard Courtney Lee trying to check him in the post. Houston's Kyle Lowry is in no man's land defensively right now, looking to double but not coming hard or fully committing.

Lo-post_2_medium

Beasley recognizes the mismatch and backs the smaller Lee down. Lowry left Ricky Rubio and is coming down to double, while Samuel Dalembert is waiting in the lane. But neither are in position to stop a quick move by Beasley.

Lo-post_3_medium

Beasley uses a drop step and spins baseline, away from the defense. He then elevates over the top and finishes at the basket. Lowry is too late to stop him and by going baseline he takes Dalembert out of the play. It's a one-on-one with Lee, and the 6-foot-5 shooting guard is just too small to stop Beasley.

CUT

With Beasley's length, athleticism and shooting touch he can be very effective slashing off the ball. The last play I have here is Beasley cutting in for an easy two points.

Cut_1_medium

This play starts after an offensive rebound by the Timberwolves. The Minnesota player has the ball in the corner and is surveying the court. Beasley realizes A) that his defender is playing off of him and B) that the middle of the floor is wide open. Beasley cuts hard to the paint and gives his teammate an open target.

Cut_2_medium

Beasley catches the ball as Dunleavy tries to recover and get back in front of him. However, Beasley is too explosive and keeps his momentum going towards the hoop.

Cut_3_medium

Beasley again elevates and finishes over the top of both Dunleavy and the big man under the basket who tried to help.

Although Beasley is not so adept at creating offense off the dribble, he can be devastating when you get him on the move. His size and athleticism make him tough to stop. He's much more effective when he only has to use one or two dribbles to get to the rim.

Putting it all Together

There is no doubting Michael Beasley's talent. He's capable of heating up and dominating like no one else on this Suns roster.

However, for him to be that guy more often than he has been thus far it is going to take a joint effort by Beasley and the team. Alvin Gentry and Goran Dragic must put Beasley in position to play to his strengths, but Beasley also has to be willing to be used in that way.

If the Suns let Beasley stand out on the wing most of the game and just do whatever he wants, nothing will change. Asking him to create offense off the dribble on a regular basis is a recipe for disaster.

Beasley needs to do his work off the ball. He needs to get his shots in the post and on the move rather than on the wing. He needs to be a finisher more than a creator.

The ball-stopping and bad jump shots need to stop. There is definitely a place for Beasley in this new Suns offense, but Beasley has to be willing to make the necessary adjustments.

What say you Bright Side of the Sun? How will Gentry use Beasley? Will we see a new man, or the same old Beasley? The answers to these questions could be the difference between hope for the future and a disappointing season.


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It's that time of year again. Everyone dons their wizard hat and predicts the future, based on the impressions of the present. Good teams will be good again. Bad teams will be bad. Splashy teams (NY, LA, Dallas, Brooklyn) get the headlines and the benefit of the doubt. Boring teams get ignored.

When it comes to the Phoenix Suns, though, most of the pundits on the internet have decided to "punt". Or to use an NBA term, to "swallow their whistle".

The knee-jerk perception among media is to bury the post-Nash Suns. Heck, even the NBA discounts the Suns, giving them only 5 nationally-televised games this year. How can a team that waved goodbye to their best player, without replacing him with a clearly better one, be anywhere near as good the next season?

But then part of the exercise of writing a season preview is to analyze the actual Suns roster, which has led to some raised eyebrows. Okay, Steve Nash and Grant Hill are gone. But they do have the impressive, young, media-loved Goran Dragic. Oh yeah, and there's steady Luis Scola. The interesting potential of Markieff Morris. And the enignmatic but uber-talented Michael Beasley. Hmm... Plus, Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat are still there too?

That's the point at which the pundits throw up their hands and equivocate. The Suns should be bad, because they didn't even make the playoffs last season before giving up their best player. But then the Suns could be good, because Dragic and Scola nearly carried a worse Rockets team to the postseason.

Who knows, right?

Some of them, in their moment of indecision, return to their simple comfort level and predict horrible things anyway. Others remain on the fence. Only Clyde Drexler - the TV color analyst for Dragic and Scola last season - is willing to ride the Suns' horse into battle.

Check out some previews throughout the interwebs as of this morning.

Phoenix Suns 2012-13 Season Preview | NBA.com

Phoenix Suns 2012-13 Season Preview - Yahoo! Sports

2012-2013 Phoenix Suns Season Preview | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors

Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-13 Preview: Phoenix Suns - Thunderous Intentions - An Oklahoma City Thunder Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Suns: Preseason Preview - Always Miller Time - An Indiana Pacers Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Clyde "The Glide" Drexler's faith lies in the Phoenix Suns


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