Click here to Skip to main content
ROOKIE REPORT
beasley608.jpg
Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Rookie Rankings: Might be time to go easy on B-Easy

By Dave McMenamin, NBA.com
Posted Dec 4 2008 5:24PM

I came into last Saturday's Clippers-Heat tilt with some preconceived notions about Miami's No. 2 pick, Michael Beasley.

(Side note: I've been seeing "tilt" used a lot more these days. It makes a game sound like some sort of ride at a theme park -- "Come defy death on Six Flags' new 10,000-foot tall white knuckling, heart racing, adrenaline pumping roller coaster -- The Tilt!" Either that or it could have totally been a '50s dance craze. I can picture Chubby Checker singing, "Come on baby, let's do the tilt, come on ba-bayyyyy let's do the tilt," as he peers down on a crowd of teeny boppers swaying like Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.)

You see, I look at basketball as my game. I've literally handed my life over to the sport. Any draft pick that ends up making a splash on the hoops scene becomes a part of my daily routine and coming into this season I was wary of having Beasley as a bed fellow.

There was never a question in my mind about his talent. I sat next to Thunder Assistant General Manager Troy Weaver at Madison Square Garden last December to see Beasley and Kansas State take on Notre Dame followed by Derrick Rose and Memphis go against O.J. Mayo and USC. Weave is plugged into the Washington D.C. basketball pipeline and had seen Beasley play for years, but that didn't stop him from marveling at the freshman's 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks matched up against the Irish's Luke Harangody, who would go on to win Big East Player of the Year.

In my section of seats alone I can remember seeing Joe Dumars, Vinny Del Negro, Danny Ainge. There were more powerful basketball men in the Garden that night than there are lame jokes about Mattoon, Illinois in Will Leitch's writing.

Beasley (and Rose, and Mayo) was The Next Big Thing.

But I wasn't buying it. To me, being a top-five pick means you're more than just a ball player. You're the face of a franchise. You're the guy on posters and billboards and in commercials hawking holiday ticket packages. You're the guy who will represent the city on a national stage if and when you fulfill your promise and make the All-Star Game.

On Draft night I placed him at No. 5 in the initial Rookie Rankings, writing:

"The talent that Mike Beasley has is undeniable. He's a whirling dervish of skill, speed and strength. Rather, it's his attitude that lands him in the middle of the top 10. His off-the-court antics have led him to be labeled anything from a goofball to a knucklehead, and those are on the polite end. What concerns me about Beasley is A) Pat Riley shopped the No. 2 pick because he wasn't high on Beasley's character B) He has people saying things like "I doubt Michael is ever going to get it" about him C) He's been "the man" wherever he's been. Now he's the third option after Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion, who is not about to be the "I just want to fit in" Matrix now that he's out from Steve Nash's and Amare Stoudemire's shadows D) As a rookie head coach who Mayo recently confused for being just a "young team trainer," do you really think that Erik Spoelstra has the stones to properly discipline Beasley when he needs to? He'll have his big games, but he'll also have his moments that cause headaches for the Heat. Then again, maybe I'm being too harsh on the guy. Even Michael Jordan was suspended in junior high hitting a girl with a popsicle stick."

At the Rookie Photo Shoot I mocked the ridiculous poses Beasley found himself in with a "floating" basketball.

And in a preseason blog post I dropped the diplomacy and just went with my gut feeling when it comes to B-Easy, "I think tend to think that Beasley will be a colossal flop," causing me to catch the best kind of ire there is -- message board ire.

So, anyway, back to STAPLES Center on Saturday. Before the game I read the recap of the Heat's win from the previous night in Phoenix when Dwyane Wade scored 43 points, Beasley came off the bench and went scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting and Miami registered a crucial road win over the Suns.

After the win, the rookie was despondent, saying, "I was kind of lost, kind of confused what my role was," in response to the benching, "but as long as we're winning I don't need a role."

"He'll respond. Michael always responds. And there's nothing better than the carrot of playing time," Spoelstra said to Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinal.

Respond he did. I sat slack-jawed in the second quarter of Miami's game in L.A. as Beasley took it to former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby like he was Joe Calzaghe and Camby was Roy Jones Jr.

Beasley started off the quarter short on a jumper and long on a corner three and then got going with a left runner in the lane, a face up J, a fake-spin-finger roll combo aided by those ridiculously large paws of his, a couple of threes, a couple of free throws and a barrel-right-at-Camby layup to cap a 17-point period.

He finished with 24 points (one off his career high) on 10-for-16 shooting and five rebounds in 27 minutes off the pine.

"I was just playing," Beasley told me after the game. "I think it's the first game I've played so far when I just wasn't thinking and I think I played better when I don't have nothing on my mind."

We talked about his transition from the NCAA to the NBA.

Line of the Week
Derrick Rose (CHI)
Nov. 30 at PHI
18 points, 10 ast, 5 reb
8-15 FG, 1 blk, 1 stl

"[It's been] Tough, but fun," Beasley said. "It's tough because it's new, it's fun because I'm around some fun-loving guys and this is what I love to do.

"It's basketball all the time. All the time is basketball, basketball, basketball. That's what I love, why wouldn't I want to play basketball all day? Some guys complain about two-hour, three-hour practices. I would rather just play basketball all day than sit in a box."

Who sits in a box all day besides a homeless person? I would rather play basketball than be homeless too. Here, here.

However flawed Beasley's analogy was, the Clippers game got him back on track. If you caught the highlights of Miami's next game against Golden State you saw the 6-9, 245-pounder playing defense like a guard and stealing an inbounds pass intended for Jamal Crawford in overtime to get to the foul line and hit the game-winning free throw.

The two games changed my perception of Beasley. So what if he's aloof at times? I can deal with a couple of questionable quotes here and there. Beasley had the mettle to be able to bounce back from the worst game of his career with those two games that showed more gut than Rosie O'Donnell wearing a baby tee.

I can watch a guy like that play every day.

Korleone Young Drop of the Week: J. Thompson SAC (-3)
Eddie Gottlieb Rise of the Week: R. Fernandez POR (+3)

Overall Rankings - Week 5

1. Derrick Rose, G, Chicago
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
18 38.1 18.7 4.2
5.8
0.9 0.2 .493 .368 .844
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 1
Did anybody else get a flashback to a rookie Allen Iverson on Michael Jordan when you saw the highlight of Derrick Rose making Andre Miller fall to the floor with a filthy crossover in Philly last week?

2. O.J. Mayo, G, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
17
39.4
21.9
4.6 2.2 1.3 0.1 .464 .388 .896
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 3
Mayo pumped in back-to-back 30-point games for the second time of his young career. For some perspective on the feat, consider that Kobe Bryant has yet to top the 30-point plateau in consecutive games this season.

3. Michael Beasley, F, Miami
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
18 28.6 14.7 5.4 1.1 0.8 0.6 .449 .348 .830
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 2
I can't help but laugh at the dynamic between Miami's rookie head coach Erik Spoelstra and his star rookie sometimes when I heard Beasley say, "I looked over at the bench a couple of times and I didn't see a mad face, so I guess I was doing something right," after the OT win against the Warriors.

4. Rudy Fernandez, G-F, Portland
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
19 25.9 11.5 2.7 1.9 0.9 0.2 .419 .431 .952
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 24 by Phoenix in 2007
After hitting a bit of a scoring slump, Fernandez hit for double digits in three out of Portland's four games (all wins) last week and is a big reason why the surging Blazers have the West's second-best record.

5. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
17 29.4 12.2 7.1 1.2 0.6 0.8 .576 .000 .778
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 48 by L.A. Lakers in 2007
Memphis still can't seem to win a game, but nobody is pointing any fingers at Gasol. The Spanish big man's double-digit scoring streak has stretched to double digits at 10 games.

6. D.J. Augustin, G, Charlotte
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
17 28.9 12.6 2.1 4.3 0.5 0.0 .421 .400 .904
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 9
I thought that Augustin's production would fall off when Jason Richardson returned to the lineup last week, but it only seemed to get stronger. He has to work on adjusting to the hand check rule, as he?s been whistled 12 times in his last three games -fouling out against the Timberwolves.

7. Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
18 26.9 12.3 3.3 4.1 1.8 0.3 .349 .259 .805
Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 4
Westbrook got his first start of the year against Memphis last week and the roster change helped the Thunder nab their second win.

8. Jason Thompson, F, Sacramento
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
20 24.9 10.2 6.2 1.0 0.8 0.4 .545 .000 .642
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 12
As Sacramento gets healthy bodies back in the lineup, Thompson's production and starting spot have been the victims. So far he hasn't adjusted to his reserve role in a positive manner.

9. Luc Mbah a Moute, F, Milwaukee
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
19 29.0 9.1
7.2
0.8 1.0 0.6 .441 .000 0.754
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 37
The odds of a second-round draft pick making his mark in the league right off the bat are pretty long, but not as long as the odds of this incredible SUNY Geneseo shot going in.

10. Brook Lopez, C, New Jersey
G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% 3P% FT%
17 27.1 9.7 7.2 0.7 0.6 1.7 .485 .000 .786
Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 10
Forget all the jokes about Brook and his eccentric twin brother Robin sharing an affinity for Disney characters (there will be plenty of time to have fun with that later on in the season, in the dog days of the Rookie Rankings) and admire the work that the center out of Stanford is putting in. He makes his debut in the top 10 thanks to a just-scratching-the-surface 20-point, eight-rebound, three-block night in a road win over the Kings.
RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Bobby Brown (SAC), Mario Chalmers (MIA), Eric Gordon (LAC), George Hill (SAS), Kevin Love (MIN), JaVale McGee (WAS), Anthony Morrow (GSW), Greg Oden (POR), Anthony Randolph (GSW), Marreese Speights (PHI)

Noteworthy

Hickson

J.J. Hickson (CLE) scored 26 points total in his first 12 games played until exploding with 10 points and 14 points in back-to-back wins against the Knicks and Thunder last week.
Roko Ukic (TOR) scoring 12 points in the Raptors? 39-point blowout loss to the Nuggets might be the only good thing to come out of a game that caused Bryan Colangelo to fire Sam Mitchell on Wednesday. The best thing to come out of my Syracuse Orange winning by 30-plus against Colgate on Monday? My man, Syracuse walk-on Jake Presutti stroking a corner three with five seconds left for his first collegiate bucket.
The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: J.R. Giddens (BOS)*, Hamed Haddadi (MEM)*, Richard Hendrix (GSW)*, Nathan Jawai (TOR), Sonny Weems (DEN), D.J. White (OKC), Jawad Williams (CLE), Sun Yue (LAL)
* = assigned to D-League


SEARCH NEWS
LATEST VIDEOS
photoGasol Heads to Chicago
NBA TV's Jared Greenberg reports on Pau Gasol's announcement he is heading to the Chicago Bulls and other free agent news.
photoBig Follow
Thanassis Antetekoumpo rises to grab the offensive rebound and throws it down win one hand in the third quarter.
photoTwo-Man Game
Shannon Brown and Jeremy Tyler play a nice give-and-go play to score a bucket in the third quarter.
photoDaniel to Daniel
The Wizards' Daniel Orton makes a nice pass to find Daniel Theis open on the baseline for the easy bucket.
photoBrown Throws Down
The Knicks' Shannon Brown takes the feed and throws it down in the first quarter.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices

NBA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.