For Miami Heat, There Are Two Sides To The Michael Beasley Coin

Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley

Nov. 17, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley (0) dribbles the ball up the court during the game against the Miami Heat in the second half at US Airways Center. The Heat defeated the Suns 97-88. Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Miami’s somewhat prodigal son has returned. Michael Beasley, who seemed like little more than roadkill on the side of the NBA talent highway, is now a member of the two-time champion Miami Heat team. Even when they suck at their job, the rich get richer.

The surface details show that both parties stand to gain more than they can possibly lose. As XN correspondent Anson Whaley point outs, on a skin-deep level Beasley adds to Miami’s size as he’s a 6’10” forward who rebounds well for a hybrid 3-4 type and who allows the Heat to remain as positionally flexible as they’ve been since post-The Decision.

(As these types of matters have a habit of working out, if Beasley hadn’t been sacked by the Heat to make room for The Big Three perhaps his narrative would never have come to this, where he’s a draft bust looking for redemption on a team supremely capable of providing it).

There’s no particular assurance that Junior will even make the team roster, and even if he does it would be on non-guaranteed terms, but there’s also no assurance that he won’t. Why would a team chasing a three-peat conduct business it doesn’t stand behind? And so, we’ll be discussing both sides of the coin at hand: side 1) how Beasley might hurt the Heat if he lands on its bench, and side 2) how he might help if he can exceed the ocean floor-low expectations he’s expected to meet.

THE BAD

Hurts Oncourt Efficiency - Michael Beasley’s PER has tanked worse than the Bobcats organization over the years. He also has increasingly accounted for more of his team’s turnovers, has had his Win Shares and Win Shares Per 48 Minutes drop into the negatives, and has seen his offensive rating plummet while his defensive rating continues to indicate that he treats defense like court: just another thing to get out of. Unless a miracle happens in South Beach, anytime he takes the floor he’s going to hurt a team who operates like a robotized manufacturing yard.
Low Risk, High Michael Beasley - J. R. Smith proved the other night that drug consumption, even when not banned steroids, can cost your team. Beasley was reportedly dropped from Phoenix for violating the NBA’s drug policy in the same smoke-filled manner as Smith. A five-game ban for M.B. wouldn’t mean the same thing for the Heat as the ban means for J.R. and the Knicks, but it also could derail the concentration of a team looking to win another trophy. It might not even just happen once.
Enough Talent, Wrong Skillsets - For his career, Beasley has been a high-volume shooter with little regard for efficiency. He can score, rebound well, and pass some, but not well enough in the latter two categories to make up for his low quality shot-taking. What the Heat really need is another Oden type who can block and defend while providing some size around the rim. A long-range shot would be nice but it’s on the boards and rim protection where Miami falters (and might ultimately fail). Beasley, as many know, isn’t known for his defense. And that isn’t going to change in Miami.

THE GOOD

Shot 40.7% From Deep First Year In Miami; 34.5% Overall - Essentially serving as a lesser stand-in for Mike Miller, who was very complimentary to Heat schemes when it mattered most, Beasley is not a bad on-paper replacement. His rookie year in Miami—though offset some by the abysmal 25.0% from deep during his sophomore campaign—indicates that he can shoot from deep under the right circumstances. A career 34.5% mark only further cements that thinking. If the Miami culture is strong enough perhaps they can force Beasley into acting as a more athletic, though less gifted from the three, version of Miller when the scenario requires it.

Miami Matches Indiana’s Bench Depth - Indiana has been busy during this off-season. It now might have another edge on the Heat: potential bench production. Not phased, Pat Riley grabbed Greg Oden and now Michael Beasley to spruce up his own sub ranks. Both additions are high-risk gambles but that’s the only way Riley knows how to approach new ventures. He wouldn’t be defending two consecutive championships if he was susceptible to pause.

Low Expectations, High Rewards - A non-guaranteed deal is the right move for Miami. There’s perhaps even indication that letting Beasley try out for the team is a charitable gesture, so, who knows if he’ll be playing during the season. But anything else can put them in bed with Beasley for longer than his waning talents should require. If—and that’s a LeBron-sized if—Miami turns out to be the place for him, then Heat management essentially pulled off the sleeper move of the off-season. Someone has to believe, right?

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Bogar Alonso is a dedicated student of the hardwood, soccer pitch, boxing ring, and tennis court. He is a regular NBA contributor to XN Sports. His work, involving more than just sports, has appeared on The Creators Project, A&E Networks, XXL Magazine, and others. Follow Bogar on Twitter @blacktiles
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