The question is not raw talent. Michael Beasley has plenty of that. You don’t get drafted No. 2 overall without signs of serious potential.
But Beasley has never come anywhere near that potential.
As the Miami Heat — the team that drafted Beasley — are about to take him and his new Timberwolves team on, the Palm Beach Post asked Dwyane Wade about Beasley and how good he could be. The answer is it’s up to Beasley.
“Michael is an unbelievable talent,” Wade said. “And he can erupt any game, any moment. The ability that he has to use both hands around the basket, finishing. His jumpshot. He has all the tools. With Michael, it’s just going to take him to continue to grow at the game, and get to a winning environment, and start understanding what his team needs from him. I mean, he’s a good player. He’s one of the best young talents that we have in the game. But he has the potential to be a great player. If he wants it. And that’s what we always told him in Miami. So we’ll see.”
What Wade is politely talking about is dedication to the game. That has never been questioned with Wade — he will do whatever it takes in the offseason to be ready for the season’s start. He takes care of his body, he studies tape, he is committed to the game and winning. Beasley, to be polite, lacks that.
Beasley is not terrible — he’s averaging 19.5 points per game — but he only scratches the surface of what could be. It’s not the physical tools, it’s the mental ones that are questioned, it’s his efficiency that is in doubt. He is shooting just 44 percent this young season. His PER has always hovered around the league average.
Beasley has physical skills well beyond just average. But there are more than financial reasons the Heat wanted to move him a couple years ago.
Jusuf Nurkic did not enjoy his time as a member of the Denver Nuggets. His trade to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee was a welcome change of scenery.
On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.
Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.
Nurkic quite possibly sent the Nuggets packing for the year with the game at the Moda Center on Tuesday, so he might have been the guy who helped start their summer.
Still, that is ice cold.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.
With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.
This is what happened next:
Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.
The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.
The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.
That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.
Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.
Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.
Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.
Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”
Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.
Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.
“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.
The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.