There are a lot of things to love about Michael Beasley, and nearly as many to hate. Really, the Wolves seem to collect these types of players, but with Darko having shored up many of his early-season offensive woes, Corey Brewer playing shockingly steady ball of late, and Kevin Love doing so much of the things we love that it's impossible to dwell on the things we hate, it's been Beasley who has drawn the ire of Canis Hoopus commenters, and not undeservedly so. A quick rundown of several of the most common complaints:
- He often starts games in a great offensive rhythm, only to pick up two quick fouls and be forced to head to the bench, killing our offensive momentum in the process.
- He is a lazy defender, defending with his hands, not his feet.
- He has been godawful in crunch time.
- Any other player would get benched for the things he does, but we can't bench him for fear of killing his confidence.
What if I told you I had a simple solution to all these problems? Is that something you might be interested in?
Don't pull Beasley because of foul trouble. Ever. If he gets two fouls halfway through the first, leave him in. 4th foul just after halftime? Leave him in. 5th foul early in the fourth quarter? Leave. Him. In.
Listen, one of the things coaches do that drives game theorists nuts (along with allowing potentially tying field goal attempts rather than fouling when up 3 at the end of games, kicking field goals and PATs when the odds favor going for it, attempting 2 point buzzer beaters to tie when 3 point attempts significantly increase their overall odds of wining, and, in general, horribly mismanaging endgame situations in every sport....) is that coaches are far too conservative in pulling their players when they are in foul trouble. The risk of foul trouble is that the player might eventually foul out and not be able to play anymore, but rather than leave him in and accepting that there's a chance he will miss time later coaches guarantee that the player won't be able to play by not playing him, thus volunteering for a 100% chance of the penalty they were trying to avoid. Sure, there are other reasons, like wanting to ensure the player is around for the end of the game (statistically fallacious), not wanting the player to be a target for the other team to attack and draw more fouls on (easier said than done), and not wanting the player to become passive on defense (not an issue with Beasley), but coaches are nonetheless overly conditioned to pull players regardless of circumstance, because they value tradition over logic, and that's how it's always been done.
What if we ignored all that and didn't bench Beasley? Look at that list from before the jump:
- If he's in a groove when he gets that foul, he stays in the game and keeps groovin'.
- If he wants to keep playing, he'll be forced to adjust how he defends. There might be a rough patch where Beasley finds himself fouling out before halftime, but assuming he cares about playing late in games, he'll be forced to stop committing cheap fouls.
- He can't kill us at the end of close games with costly mistakes if he's fouled out by then.
- If he does end up fouling out early, his head probably wasn't in that game anyway. We need to take longer looks at how our other wings, namely Wes Johnson, perform at the small forward position to really know what our best option is going forward. If Johnson plays a few quarters there because Beasley has fouled out, we get our extended audition without anyone's egos being crushed.
So simple, so effective. Just play Beasley his regular minutes regardless of his foul situation. The only complaint I can see is that losing Beasley before the end of the game robs us of our go-to crunch time scorer. To that I counter, we don't have a go-to crunch time scorer. It would be nice if we did. But we don't; we have a go-to crunch time turnover producer (well, several). Beasley could eventually become that scorer, but until he has, let's make him earn those reps by demonstrating that his head is in the game, and then hopefully he'll do a better job in the games where he lasts long enough to reach those situations.