Michael Beasley

There is still time before final roster decisions are made but it looks like the Memphis Grizzlies, a very good but somewhat limited team, are going to stick with Michael Beasley, who until not long ago looked like he might miss out on the beginning of this NBA season.

Beasley worked out for a couple of teams this summer, but eventually got a training camp invite from the Grizzlies. Despite being a very gifted scorer no matter the situation, Beasley looked like someone who the league has run out of patience with. He played for the Miami Heat last season but after a few months seemed to drop out of the rotation for some reason. Maybe Erik Spoelstra never really liked him, or maybe it was his defense. In the NBA finals, during the minutes he did get, many felt that more Beasley would have given the Heat more of a chance while they were being beaten quite harshly by the Spurs.

Dave Joerger gave the perfect explanation of why Beasley could do so well for this team: He gives us something that we don’t have. He’s tremendously athletic, can defend threes and fours. Every team in the league is playing stretch fours and he can play those guys defensively, and obviously his skills with the basketball are tremendous. Very good scorer one on one, facing up. I feel like he would be tremendous playing at the elbows, playing in pick and rolls. He’s the kind of athlete that we don’t really have since the Rudy Gay trade.

There isn’t much of a competition for the position. Tayshaun Prince is the starter, but he’s almost like a non-factor offensively, and his defense isn’t what it used to be without help from others. Beasley is a much better player than the likes of Patrick Christopher, Earl Clark, Luke Hancock, Kalin Lucasand Hassan Whiteside. He’s a better scorer and is proven in various roles. In theory, it should be easy.

But in theory, Beasley should have been one of the best forwards in the league by now. A double-double machine, a franchise player on the Miami Heat, his first team coming out of Kansas State, or somewhere else. But he outgrew his welcome on a number of occasions, eventually getting kicked out of Phoenix because they feared his influence might ruin the younger players.

Beasley is still young – not 26 even. He will probably never be an All-Star, and even a starter might be something of a stretch. But stranger things have happened to less talented players, and Beasley is no longer the locker room distraction he used to be. The Grizzlies need him as much as he needs them, which makes it quite compelling for both sides to make it work.

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