Suns Forward Shows the Beauty of the Beast
Ask Michael Beasley what has triggered his recent scoring outbursts, and he’ll give you his answer.
“I don’t know,” the fifth-year Suns forward will say.
While the reasons may still be completely undiscovered to him, the results are not. In his last five games, Beasley has produced in a big way.
The former No. 2 pick has averaged 18.2 points a game, shot 53 percent from the floor, drilled 4-of-7 from behind the arc and connected on 9-of-10 from the line. But it’s the way that’s he’s done it that has stood out.
In front of a raucous and "blacked out" US Airways Center crowd and against a hot Lakers team, the 6-10 forward came through in the clutch. He poured in a season-high 27 points, including a huge driving layup with 43.8 ticks left on the clock to put the Suns up two.
In one of the Suns’ biggest wins of the season, Beasley torched the Lakers for 10 fourth-quarter points. For the night, he shot 12-of-20 from the floor, while also adding five steals and four rebounds.
It was his third effort of 19 or more points in five games and his first 20-point effort at home this season.
“To see the steps that he’s been making, it’s great to see him smiling again and being himself,” Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter said. “And really going at it in practice has been the biggest surprise for us. He brings it in practice and now it translates in games.”
While Beasley might not be able to pinpoint what triggered his recent success, his coach seems to have his theories.
“Even when he was going through the rough periods of the season, he fought through the adversity by coming to the gym, getting extra shots, coming at night and coming early in the morning,” Hunter said. “I think it was at that point that he realized, regardless of the situation, ‘I have to do what I have to do to get better.’ I think that, really, was the turning point.”
Thus far this season, the former No. 2 pick has struggled with his shot, a portion of his game that he’s relied on in the past. Currently, he is shooting a career-low 40 percent from the floor and just 33 percent from the behind the arc, even including this recent hot stretch.
But Hunter has continued to stick with Beasley because he sees improvement on both ends of the floor.
“I think that the level of intensity that he has been bringing is the biggest difference,” Hunter said. “Miss or made shots, he’s been active defensively alert of the weak side.”
Since becoming the Suns’ new head coach, Hunter has tried to simplify schemes on both the offensive and defensive ends. It is an adjustment that seems to be paying off with Beasley.
“I’m just being aggressive,” he said. “It’s kind of later (in the season) for having it come to me. Right now I feel like I just have to take it; more than for myself than for my team.”
Lastly, Hunter knows that he has a good rapport with Beasley.
“I think the biggest thing was the relationship and him understanding and trusting the fact that I care more about Beas the person than the player,” Hunter said. “I think that when he feels that, then it’s easier to get on him because he doesn’t want to let you down.
“That’s a different dynamic than you having to get on them and they look at you like, ‘Why?’ So I really don’t have to yell at him. The only thing I really have to yell at him about is not taking shots. And if that’s the only thing I have to yell at him about, that’s a pretty good situation.”
After last night’s contest, Beasley made a pledge about how he’s going to continue to approach the season.
“No more nonchalant Beas,” he said. “Back to 'The Beast.’”
Just imagine if he figures out what makes him “The Beast.”
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