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Is the problem with Michael Beasley just that he’s out of position?

Aug 26, 2012, 6:00 PM EDT

Michael Beasley AP

Suns blog Valley of the Suns decided to look into the acquisition of Michael Beasley, which is going to be fun for everyone, for about three months. Suns fans get to play the “he’s just misunderstood, give him a chance!” card while everyone else gets to play the “every moment he’s ever played in the pros” card. Either Beasley will mature, develop, and grow into a great player and everyone will be forced to admit that the $6 million per year the Suns are paying him is worth it, or Suns fans will hate him in the way you can only hate players that fool you into believing and then fall flat.

The post digs into the work done on the subject at Weak Side Awareness, specifically:

Finally, the piece cites a list of lineups that played together for at least 30 minutes on and found all but one above average Beasley lineup has him at the four and 16 of 28 below average lineups have him at the three.

The problem with all this is that Beasley will most certainly be a three in Phoenix as well with an army of power forwards who must play in Luis Scola, Channing Frye and Markieff Morris. With Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O’Neal at center, there just aren’t many frontcourt minutes to go around.

On the flip side, it’s likely Jared Dudley and Shannon Brown will share the two spot, which leaves just Wes Johnson at the three aside from Beasley. In other words, it looks like the Suns will be making the same apparent mistake Miami and Minnesota did.

Now personally I don’t believe in “positions” these days so much as the roles players play. Is Dudley a two or a three? Is Johnson a two or a three? Is Frye a four or a five? Does it really matter?

I suppose it might if the Suns keep Beasley on the perimeter taking long twos all day. Perhaps there won’t be room to operate on the interior, but with a theoretically smaller defender on him the Suns should make this a priority.

For what it’s worth, Beasley and the Suns don’t seem to think it matters what position he plays, although based on this Weak Side Awareness analysis perhaps they should.

via Can Michael Beasley shed the bust label?.

The metrics certainly indicate that Beasley should be played at the 4, or whatever the “4” is on the Suns, and historically, there’s been a lot of talk that that’s where Beasley needs to be. But is his inside game good enough to provide post scoring or second-chance points on the offense? Can he manage to set screens well enough to create space? I’m not even going to talk about defense.

I’ve always been on the other side of the conversation, thinking that Beasley’s combination of athleticism and ability to spread the floor would work best as a modification of the modern NBA three. And that’s a position he’ll have more opportunities with in Phoenix. Of course, I think the concerns with him are more centered around his awareness on the floor and his ability to navigate a season while controlling his worse impulses, but based on this theorem, yes, he could succeed.

It’s not that anyone thinks the $6 million per year is some huge price. It’s that it’s a huge price for what Beasley has shown. But maybe this is it, where he has the right opportunity at the right time in his career in the right time in his life. It’s the offseason. It’s time for nothing but hope.

  1. miamatt - Aug 26, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    No, the problem with Michael Beasley is just that he’s out of weed.

  2. monkeyhateclean - Aug 26, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    There are few 4’s in the league that Beasley couldn’t take off the dribble, but his problem has always been that of maturity, so it doesn’t really matter.

  3. joshvanklomp - Aug 26, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Didn’t Beas play the 4 in Miami? Out of position in both places = tweener.

  4. qwerty007qwerty007 - Aug 26, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Out of position by about 6 inches…the space between his ears, out of position.

  5. gugurich - Aug 26, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Beasley is what Melo would look like if Melo shied away from taking the contact necessary to get to the line and was worse in every other aspect of the game.. If Beasley got to the line like he can, he still wouldn’t be a great overall player but he might be a top 10, 24 pt or higher scorer.

  6. mnsportsfan - Aug 26, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Every once in a while Beas will throw a game out that he looks like he cannot be guarded. Driving to the rim, getting to the line, etc. You see that happen and you will think that there is no reason he can’t be in the upper echelon of players. The next week or so he will come out and be completely disinterested in anything basketball, or so it will seem. This will be the life of Suns fans for the next 3 years.

    Also, he leaves quite a bit to be desired in terms of defense playing the 3.

  7. money2long - Aug 26, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    i can see a lineup where coach gentry puts beas at the 4 against younger teams.

    shannon brown
    wes johnson
    gortat or scola

    im not sure how good that lineup will be defensively however.

  8. eugenesaxe - Aug 26, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    His natural position is hunched over a bong.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 26, 2012 at 10:17 PM


      eugenesaxe, that one put tears in my eyes!

  9. dlhouse18 - Aug 27, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    No his problem is that he is the worst defender in the league and plays basketball for the Michael Beasley’s, which is not an NBA team.

  10. imthedudedude - Aug 27, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Here is a look at some lineups I thought would be great for the suns. Having Beasley at the 3, the 4, ad even the 2 in the “big lineup.”

  11. wiLQ - Aug 27, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    It’s not only about the position! The switch can improve his shot selection.
    As I’ve explained in the linked post:
    “You may ask here ‘what’s the difference? Is it only a matter of label?’. IMHO it creates bad incentives: when a player has in front of him someone who is shorter and/or faster, he’ll be more likely to shoot jumpers but when a player has in front of him someone who is longer and/or slower, he’ll be more likely to drive to the basket. That’s exactly the situation for Beasley at SF and PF and I think it’s the reason behind his shot selection.
    Maybe even more importantly players at power forward start their plays closer to the basket!”

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