Hunter Impressed With Beasley's Defense
Philosophically, Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter believes that anybody can be a good defender. Desire is the only ingredient a player would need.
As a player, Hunter spent 17 seasons in the NBA, making a name for himself with his defensive reputation. It’s now the identity that he wants his team to have.
And he believes it’s beginning to sink in with Suns forward Michael Beasley.
“Mike has been great defensively (recently),” Hunter said. “I can’t look back at a point in his career where he’s played better defense and that’s what we want to do. If everybody defends, then you’ll have a chance to be in games.”
Since Hunter has taken over, Beasley has already increased his production offensively. The former No. 2 pick is averaging 17.0 points and 5.4 rebounds since the Suns’ coaching change on January 20.
In fact, Beasley has scored 24 points or more three times this season, with all three of those efforts coming in the last five games. However, Hunter has been more impressed with the strides he’s making defensively, especially with his improved alertness and reads.
“He’s been great at being the last line of defense and talking to other guys,” Hunter said. “To see him to do that, it kind of inspires everybody else to say, ‘Wow. If Mike can do these type of things, then we should all be able to.’”
After struggling earlier in the season and watching his playing time dwindle, Beasley said that he made a renewed commitment to his game. Besides practicing harder, he also studied tape to see where his deficiencies lied so he would be able to better anticipate his opponents’ actions.
“Everybody talked to me and told me that they really needed me on both ends of the floor,” Beasley said. “They want me to do everything, and as much as I can do, I’m trying to do.”
The former Kansas State star also credits trying out his defensive tactics on teammates P.J. Tucker and Wes Johnson in practice as another reason for his improvement. But like Hunter said, when it comes down to defense, it begins with an individual hunger for it.
And Beasley believes he's ready and willing.
“I’m going to keep pushing the envelope and keep trying to take my game to new places,” Beasley said.
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