If I told you the Bobcats could acquire a guy
picked #2 picked #1 or #2 overall in the draft within the past three years, and they'd give up almost nothing, I'm pretty sure we'd all jump at the lottery ticket. Let's see: that's either Derrick Rose (not happening), Kevin Durant (not happening), Blake Griffin (not happening), Hasheem Thabeet, Greg Oden (jokes aside), or Michael Beasley. Thabeet won't be cheap, but there's a chance Oden will be, and Beasley is reportedly being shopped for almost nothing.
Obviously, if we could get either of those centers, we'd use him in the Theo Ratliff role. The fit is almost too perfect for both those guys, defensive-minded big men who, for Gasol-related and injury-related reasons, are blocked on their respective teams.
Beasley is a different matter. Thus far, he's been cast as a position-less, no-defense, low-efficiency, low-character type. However, there's reason to believe the Heat are giving up on him far too quickly.
1 -- He's not position-less. Let's stop pretending with Beasley. He's not a small forward and should not be asked to play on the wing. There's precedent for these guys. Josh Smith actually logged time as a guard earlier in his career, and Yi Jianlian's sheer athleticism still has coaches dreaming of playing such a tall man on a small forward. But even though, in theory, those guys can shoot, dribble, et cetera, they've found their niches as power forwards. They're like fold-out couches that are perfectly good as a sofa and abysmal as a bed, but because they can be used as a bed, the owner pulls out the mattress every night. Beasley is similar.
Both last year and this year, the best five-man units with Beasley used him as a power forward, and his overall adjusted plus/minus was, for the most part, devastated by extended minutes at small forward alongside both a center and Udonis Haslem.
2 -- He's been yanked around. Maybe Beasley does stupid stuff on the court that only Erik Spoelstra and other people watching every play can see, but the fact remains that even though he was the number two pick in a loaded draft, he wasn't given much leash, playing less than 28 minutes per game. Part of that is a function of having Haslem and (for a time) Shawn Marion around, but a larger part of it is management's unwillingness to let their top pick play through mistakes.
It's not like Beasley is lost out there and simply can't hang at this level, a la Alexis Ajinca. Freedom Fries was learning nothing during his rookie season in the NBA, but when he was sent to the D-League, he showed marked improvement from playing at a level where he could actually keep up. It's pretty clear a pattern's developed in Miami, in which Beasley gets his minutes slashed the moment it appears he's not doing so well. What's wrong with trusting his talent (which everyone agrees is enormous) to carry the day?
3 -- He's 21 years old. Smarter people than me have thought through NBA aging patterns, but I'm pretty sure everyone agrees, again, that because he's 21 years old, Beasley has plenty of room for improvement, whether that's in his defense, offense, or social skills.
Allow me the indulgence of a personal story. I was 21 years old not too long ago, and, having finished undergrad, decided to go straight to grad school. I finished my one year program -- my instructors and internship supervisors would say with flying colors -- but it kicked my butt, and I was a total mess by the time it ended. The summer after it all ended, I got a job in radio instead of my grad school field. A year later, I tried to rekindle the passion that led me to grad school in the first place, and went for a new job, but got my butt kicked again and was back in radio within six months.
The point is that there are millions of people in this country who don't have a settled career prospect by the time they're 30, let alone 21 years old. Think back to when you were 21, if you're older. I'm 27 now, and though I think I was relatively together and responsible for my age, I was still a freaking baby.
Given Beasley's incredible talent, I think it's kind of crazy to write him off as "he is who he is" at age 21.
For the Bobcats, it would be nice to keep Tyrus and pick up Beasley for an offense-defense platoon, meanwhile ditching Boris for a PG, especially since SuperCoolBeas has the potential to be a superstar, and if the he were to, somehow, re-enter the draft today, even knowing everything we know now, there's no way he'd fall past #6 (Wall, Turner, Johnson, Cousins... and then?).
If Michael Beasley costs me nothing significant beyond taking on his rookie contract, sign me up.