Monday, May 10, 2010

Premature Departure for Beasley?

May 10, 2010

Ever since the past season's trade deadline, rumors of the Miami Heat shopping PF Michael Beasley have amped up and gained steam. With a slight increase in playing time and minimal improvement in statistical categories, it seems that the Heat front office is becoming impatient with the 2008 2nd overall draft pick. But is the team showing irrational impatience with their young power forward?

After all, going into the '08 NBA Draft the Heat knew that Beasley would come with maturity issues and a need for development. However, they are ready to ship him off after two seasons of slightly above average performance without giving him further time to develop. That is where the intriguing question comes in: Why didn't they treat Dorell Wright the same way?

In six seasons as a member of the Heat - ever since being drafted by Miami in 2004 as the 19th overall pick - Wright has a career average of 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists. His best season came in 2007-08, when he recorded 7.9 points and 5 rebounds a game. Yet the Heat found it necessary and worthwhile to keep Wright on board for a half dozen seasons because of his potential talent and athleticism.

Why can't the same hopes and patience be placed on the Kansas State phenom?

Beasley has contributed 14.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in his first two NBA seasons, which is better than the average forward in the league. It's a given that higher expectations come with higher draft picks and Beasley has not lived up to those expectations to this day, but the 21 year old has just begun to mature. Miami understood that Wright would need time to grow both personally and professionally as a recent high school graduate, yet the same understanding is not being given to a college freshman.

Recent rumors place the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets as likely suitors for Beasley is Miami decides to dump him off in search of more cap space for another potential maximum contract offer. The Heat would lose their '08 first-rounder for virtually nothing in hopes that a better option arises in a 2010 offseason cluttered with budget-free teams. Worse case scenario, Miami would need to settle for a forward with similar, if not lesser, production than Beasley currently offers. Best case scenario, they land a bonafide three- and four-spot player to upgrade the roster. But the latter will be much more difficult with a limited combo-forward market.

Pat Riley must weigh his options and consider both the short-term and long-term repercussions of dropping or keeping Beasley. Before he allows maturity to dictate his decision, Riley should consider Beasley's recent trip to Kansas State in his search to find the "beast within." Perhaps Beasley's growth is coming sooner than expected and significant improvement is underway. On the other hand, if Riley can secure a proven and relatively young athlete (e.g., Amare Stoudemire) at the expense of Beasley, then his decision would clearly be justified.

The primary point here is that the situation must be thoroughly evaluated before any move is made prematurely. The last thing Miami needs is too lose a rising star for a big name past his prime.


AnHonestFraud said...

I'm sure the talks of Beasley moving will just stay as rumors. To some degree, Beasley has been producing and been helpful and taking him out at the moment seems counter productive, however, considering that the Heat look like they will be spending a lot of money for more players this offseason I guess there's a chance that he will be traded and if that would be the case I hope it's not to a division rival.

David J. Verjano said...

@ AnHonestFraud - Some have argued that Beasley would excel in a run-and-gun team, like the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors, if he were to be traded. However, those teams do not seem like likely suitors for Beasley for various reasons. Miami will definitely not trade Beasley to a division rival, and would probably like to ship him to the Western Conference. But as I stated in the article, this should not happen unless the Heat are completely sure that Beasley has reached his ceiling or a significantly better option is available.

Thanks for the comment.

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