I’ll be up-front here…I’m a Kansas State Alum. Throughout my college career I watched my beloved ‘Cats miss the postseason year after year. Then, a few years after I graduated, Michael Beasley arrived. Mike re-defined everything I thought about college basketball. He made Kansas State must-see TV for one glorious year, averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds in his one and only season (while criminally losing the National Player of the Year award to the poor man’s Christian Laettner).
Beasley led K-State to their first NCAA tournament win in 12 years and re-energized an entire fan base in the process. To absolutely nobody’s surprise he declared for the NBA Draft following his remarkable freshman season. Beasley was the 2nd pick in the draft by the Miami Heat and completed his rookie season averaging 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Pretty decent stats for a 20 year-old rookie, particularly considering the fact that Beasley accumulated such numbers in less than 25 minutes per game.
Why did Beasley receive less than 25 minutes per game you ask? Spoelstra cited his lack of defensive ability as the reason. In spite of the fact that Miami averaged just 98.3 points per game, Beasley stayed on the bench, playing at the whims of Spoelstra. Beasley played under 20 minutes in a game 19 times in the ’08-’09 season, almost inexcusable for a person with so much offensive ability that Pat Riley said he could lead the league in scoring.
For some strange reason Spoelstra has been given credit for the Heat turnaround from 15 wins in ’07-’08 to 43 this season, despite the fact that he received the benefit of having a healthy Dwayne Wade for the entire year combined with the incredibly poor quality of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. My general point? Spoelstra is clueless. I could throw D-Wade out there for 40 minutes per game, Star Jones banging notwithstanding, and makes the playoffs in the East. If Spoelstra actually had even a minor clue what he was doing he’d play Beasley around the same minutes. Here are a couple of bold predictions for you:
(1) If Beasley isn’t playing 35 minutes per game by 2010-2011 Spoelstra will not have a job.
(2) Once Beasley is getting those 35 minutes per game, he’ll average 23-10.
Yes I’m bitter, and yes I understand that Beasley is less than poor as a defender…but I’ve watched a great deal of basketball over the years and few if players I’ve seen have the offensive ability of Michael Beasley. So there it is Erik Spoelstra, you can only ride superstar Dwayne Wade so far, if you don’t play Beasley more you’ll be searching for a new job sooner than you think.