A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Stop comparing prospects to Michael Beasley!

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One of my pet peeves when reading NBA Draft posts, is how often Michael Beasley is used as a comparison and cautionary tale for prospects. Beasley being a bust at 2nd overall in 2008, is used as a comparison for why Small Forward-Power Forward tweeners, or 6’8-ish power forwards who play on the perimeter may bust. Prospects such as Anthony Bennett last year or Jabari Parker this year or Derrick Williams from a few drafts ago, fall under this category. The logic is these players may not have the size to play power forward or footspeed to play small forward, so they can’t find a role.

Now regardless of whether these concerns are founded (My perspective isn’t so much that these tweener prospects are without risk, but what some people miss is that every other type of prospect can be equally risky), the use of Beasley specifically does not seem justified to me.

It is true that Beasley’s lack of footspeed at small forward and short height at power forward may have contributed to his failure, but overall he is a unique prospect in how enigmatic his personality is. All word about his work ethic/conditioning is porous, being a player who for all we know, cares more about Skittles, weed and Ingmar Bergman movies than becoming the best basketball player he can. Beasley’s checking into rehab for psychological issues like depression in addition to drugs a few years ago is a red flag to say the least for a professional basketball player. Beasley is no less than the NBA’s biggest enigma.

Beasley is an exception among professional basketball players or sports athletes in general. The vast majority of players are killing machines, both in physical conditioning and confidence in themselves. The ones that aren’t, virtually never make it to NBA consideration in the first place.

In short, the odds Michael Beasley is a bust because of his enigmatic personality and not because of his talent or style of play, is high. In a way, comparing him to future small forward/power forwards, is as useful as comparing future 7 foot mammoth athletes to Greg Oden. Just as Oden’s knees give him an unique reason for not reaching his talent, as does Beasley’s enigmatic head. In both cases, a part of their body was not up to the standards of health the NBA requires to succeed.

It’s not a guarantee that Beasley failed just because he’s an enigma off the court. But all that’s needed is enough of a probability he did. If we are open to the possibility that Beasley had the talent to make multiple all-star games but never reached it, when it comes to discussing a player like Jabari Parker who should have none of these enigma concerns, comparing Michael Beasley to him becomes all but useless. Or to put it another way, Beasley’s enigmatic personality becomes the ultimate “confounding variable”, making it difficult to say with confidence that being a tweener is an explanation for his failure.

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Written by jr.

March 6, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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