Archive for Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beasley fails to step up for Heat

February 28, 2010

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Can it be considered an eye-opening experience if you realize you’ve actually already seen this picture time and time again?

The Heat playing without Dwyane Wade was supposed to be an opportunity for Michael Beasley. A chance for Beasley to prove his game is as big as his emotional swings. To prove that, no, he’s not Tito Jackson, that he is, at the very least, Janet.

What we’ve seen so far is more of what we’ve seen throughout this season: inconsistent play. And without Wade there to rescue him, part of the result was one of the worst losses of the season Tuesday against Minnesota, which is saying a lot given this team already has lost to the Wizards, the Clippers, the Grizzlies by 28, the Bobcats by 39 and the Bucks twice in three days.

The truth is all this attention Beasley is garnering as he tries to live up to his No. 2 draft pick status is a waste of time.

Because if the Heat has its way this summer and builds an instant contender by re-signing Wade and bringing in one of the free agent behemoths like Chris Bosh, then nothing like this will ever be asked of Beasley again.

If the Heat does as promised and makes the upcoming offseason the most significant in the team’s history, then not only will Beasley not be asked to be the leading man in the foreseeable future again, he’ll be downgraded from No. 2 scoring option to No. 3 option. He can actually be Jermaine, Marlon or Jackie Jackson, and it’ll be OK.

The concept should be frustrating to Beasley, the former Kansas State player who not only has the gifts of an elite scorer but also appears to have the drive of a potential superstar.

That determination had been questioned in the past, given his carefree attitude, but he seems to have turned that opinion. It was encouraging that the 21-year-old didn’t just shrug off his awful 5-of-18 shooting performance against the Timberwolves (although, in fairness, it should be noted that the Heat was plus-12 with Beasley on the court and an unusual minus-17 with his backup Udonis Haslem), and that he had a Wade-like midnight shooting session the very next day to sweat away the stink of failure.

But what will it ever translate to if he’s never given the true opportunity to be a top-tier player on a consistent basis? It should be known around these parts as the Jamal Mashburn Syndrome, given how much he blossomed once he went from third Heat scorer to Hornets All-Star.

Beasley’s already perturbed that draftmates Derrick Rose and Brook Lopez and Russell Westbrook are flourishing individually while he still only gets spot chances. So how much longer will he be able to handle not being a featured player? And how much will that extended time as a backup singer stunt his personal growth?

It kind of makes you wonder why Pat Riley was supposedly so unyielding when it came to holding onto Beasley around the trade deadline. It’s not in Riley’s nature to look five, six or seven years down the road. And if he has his way this summer, it won’t be until that far down the line that Beasley will be able to truly flourish.

Unless Riley is holding on to Beasley as one of his “chips” — the kind that Caron Butler and Lamar Odom ended up being in 2004 — it was almost pointless not to move Beasley and his $5 million salary for next season.

Riley can’t be encouraged with his choice over the Heat’s past few games. Without Wade, Beasley’s averages are 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 39 percent shooting in 35 minutes. For the season, his averages are 15.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 46 percent shooting in 31 minutes.

Not enough of a difference to be convinced that Beasley is on the verge of great things. If Beasley’s going to be the player he envisions, he’ll have to be the matchup nightmare that Dirk Nowitzki is or the scoring machine Carmelo Anthony has become. So far, he’s more like a young Zach Randolph without the rebounds, or an Antoine Walker without the three-point fetish.

He’ll need some luck to change those descriptions because Wade will be back soon, and presumably another All-Star teammate is on the way months from now.

We might see more of this for some time. If all goes well for the Heat, Beasley might as well look into a Tito tattoo.

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