The Beasley Effect: How B-Easy Changed the NBA

Connor Lawrence

From acclaimed NCAA superstar to apparent NBA journeyman, it has been a long and strange journey for Michael Beasley, the former second overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft. It has been five odd years for Beasley but yet despite repeated drug issues, bad hair days, and eerie estate sales in Minnesota, Beasley has finally returned to the team that drafted him not long ago: the Miami Heat.

Regardless of how you view it, Beasley has somehow gone from being a member of one of the worst teams in the Association, the Phoenix Suns, to a dynasty in the making in South Beach. Though many may mock him as being a bust or a waste of talent, Vegas would argue that Beasley has a very good chance at getting a ring at the end of this season.

But I’m not here to argue the justification of whether or not Beasley deserves another chance at a successful NBA career. I’m here to discuss the fact of how and why Michael Beasley, and his NBA setbacks, may have very well changed the face of the NBA in its entirety. The following sports phenomenon is something that I like to call ‘The Beasley Effect.’

Circa 2008

Michael Beasley was drafted out of Kansas State with the second overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft. Taken right after future-MVP Derrick Rose, Beasley was drafted in a great draft class that included players like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Serge Ibaka among many others. Beasley faced some stiff competition in his class, but regardless the Miami Heat chose Beasley over four different All-Stars.

It’s not like it was considered a bad draft pick at the time either. Beasley, who was often compared to Carmelo Anthony in terms of his ability to score and rebound, averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds a game while shooting 53% from the field in college. It’s important to note that Beasley’s college statistics were actually better than Anthony’s who averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 45% from the field at his only year at ‘Cuse. Melo comparisons aside, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat must have been ecstatic to combine a potential All-Star like Beasley with Dwyane Wade.

After a horrible season in which the Heat fell to dead last in their division with a record of 15-67, things looked up for the 2008-2009 Miami Heat after acquiring Beasley. Yet two years later Beasley was shipped off to Minnesota for a measly (no pun intended) two second round picks. The Minnesota trade was done to make way for the signing of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Lebron James but it’s clear that Beasley’s stunted potential did not help his cause.

The Effect Manifests

Now thinking back to the hysteria that was The Decision back in 2010, until ESPN revealed rumors that Lebron was going to sign with Miami around an hour before the show, the public had no idea where Lebron was going. While I personally was banking on Lebron going to the Knicks, his choice to sign with Miami set in motion a series of events that bred the NBA super team culture that we presently have today.

Stars like Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Josh Smith and Chris Paul all left their teams for a chance to combine their talents with other players just like Miami did in 2010. I don’t blame them either. The lack of competitive balance in both conferences rendered those players helpless at the onslaught of those super teams. Lebron’s decision clearly left consequences on the league but how does this relate back to Michael Beasley?

The effect of Lebron’s choice resonates itself when you think of the Miami Heat’s decision to ditch Beasley four short days after Lebron made his announcement. Now obviously you can’t blame the Heat for utilizing an opportunity to sign the best player in the NBA however, that decision would have been more difficult had Beasley panned out.

In his first two seasons with the Heat, Beasley averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 46% from the field. Compared with players in his draft class, Beasley’s first two years were plagued with disappointment especially in the playoffs where he failed to step-up in both 2009 and 2010.

For the sake of theory let’s say Beasley averaged what his often compared contemporary Carmelo Anthony had averaged in his first two years, 20 points and 6 rebounds on 43% shooting. I think it’s safe to say that if Riley and the management down in South Beach had a player who was averaging those numbers at the young age of 21 years old, the decision to trade him would have been much more difficult.

While I realize that this theory is based off of complete assumption, it’s interesting to see how connected the NBA really is and how a few players’ decisions or statistics can impact the entire league. Going back to Beasley himself, I’ve always thought he was a great scorer who at best was inconsistent by nature. From what we’ve seen in a few flashes of potential, Beasley can certainly ball with the best of them if he’s focused. On any night, Beasley is liable to go off for 20 plus; look at his game log for proof. With his return to the Miami Heat hopefully Beasley can find his groove and finally justify that second overall pick.

Photo credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Connor Lawrence


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