I've got my evil, mad scientist hat on today when considering the Wolves, twisting my usual thinking around and asking myself, 'What if we decided to build around Michael Beasley?'
Well, what if we did?
It's an intriguing thought experiment, one that simultaneously alienates and re-energizes the fan base while potentially bringing very entertaining basketball and a new string of first round exits as Kahn's final legacy. Read on to see one possible plan for building around Beasley.First off, let me be clear on something. The choice to build around Beasley for this thought experiment is completely arbitrary, meaning there really isn't more reason to it than because I wanted to challenge my own assumptions. I've been arguing that Love must be kept and built around and Beasley needs to go, so why not flip it around?
Let the madness begin!
Building around Beasley means, first and foremost, to me means trading Kevin Love. I want Beasley at the 4, and Love is easily our best trading chip. More on that later.
Beasley, pretty much no matter which way you look at it, is a much better player as a PF than as a SF. This isn't a stats analysis post, so I'm not going to calculate specific values for stuff as much I'm going to take general known knowns and present them as evidence to back up what I'm saying (aka, so that I'm not making up ridiculous arguments here). In other words, Beasley performs better as a PF than as a SF. Playing PF for Miami he was pretty decent - not Kevin Love good, but if we build around Beasley we simply want him to score, score, and score some more, right? That's what he's good at, that's what he wants to do, so let's roll with it.
Scoring, then, becomes the new template for this team - Beasley's team. Thinking SSOL Suns, or early 1990's era basketball. Those teams could be good, could be bad, but damn were they entertaining! Looking at our current roster we've got the pieces to make it happen.
La Pistola. Blond Ricky. The playmaker extraordinaire who should flourish in an up tempo system where his handles and vision would be deadly. The Suns had Nash, a much better shooter admittedly, but in today's evolving game does Ricky need to shoot? I don't think so. To make this scoring heavy strategy work I'm thinking three things - SSOL, transition buckets, and FTAs. Aim for a season team FGA of 7500 (or about 6 more shots per game than last year). More importantly, aim for around 2500 team FTAs for the season (again, a little more than 6 additional FTAs per game).
Defense? Only if it's steals and blocks. You know what they say - sometimes the best defense is an offense that puts so much pressure on you that you can't keep up.
Could it work? I don't know, but it's fun to consider a team built around Beasley and Ricky. Beasley, an athletic PF, unleashed to drive to the basket, dunk Rubio-Oops, drain fadeaway long 2's (sorry, couldn't resist). But seriously, let Beasley do his thing and attack opposing teams.
At small forward play Wes Johnson, a natural small forward with a deadly three point shot and (at least at Syracuse) a great drive to the basket game IF provided a PG of Rubio's abilities. People all said that Wes could be a Matrix type - why not unleash him and say, 'Wes, you can take as many pull-up threes as you want as long as you get 2 dunks first.'
At center you trade back with Toronto, sending them the #2 pick for a second pick this year, the #5 pick this year, and their first rounder next year (unprotected). You then draft whichever big is left and highest on your board. Any of the three candidates could work. Enes Kanter would be a dominant interior big man and rugged defender, our sledgehammer for when other teams try to get too physical for us. Biyombo would be...well who knows what he'd be but I can guarantee you it'd be fun. He's springy, high energy, fast, and is a prime candidate for the Dean Garrett effect playing next to Rubio. Lastly, Val could provide a Brook Lopez type game with better defense, especially as he gets stronger. Point is, there are three big men who would represent BPA and best fit for us in this scoring happy vision. Go get 'em!
So that leaves shooting guard. What to do? Enter Kevin Love. Thinking about those SSOL Suns teams, they always had some good shooters and scorers for Nash to outlet to. So who would I want to round out this squad?
Of course, the Clips already have some guy out there at PF, so trading them Love wouldn't help at all. But I did come up with one trade that would probably actually work, and it involves three teams. Before we go further, tho, I am not proposing we're getting our pick back from the Clips. We'd be getting Toronto's first next year, and that's good enough. On to the trade!
In short, Love goes to Philly, Iggy goes to the Clippers, and Gordon goes to us. Tell me it doesn't make enough sense to consider it. Value wise all three core players are very good, All-Star level players, so that checks out. The fluff is in there to make the numbers work and don't really impact the main pieces. Philly gets their long term PF and opens up the door for Turner's development. The Clippers get a significantly better perimeter defender, solid scorer, and all around veteran leader to help get them back in the playoffs. And we get arguably one of the best young perimeter scoring threats in the NBA. So without further ado, I give you...
Bench: Jonny, Martell, Wayne, Tolliver, AR, Pek, (and eventually Bjelly as a second ball handler/playmaker)
At various points you could go super long and athletic with Biyombo (let's say), Beasley, AR, Wes, and Rubio, or go for shooters with Jonny, Wayne, Martell, Tolliver, and AR. Or you could go pressure/block/steals defense with Rubio, Martell, Wes, AR, and Biyombo. Point is, you could actually build a team around Beasley and have it be ridiculously fun to watch (and at times ridiculously maddening). Such a team could actually, depending on various player developments and proper coaching fit, win a fair number of games by simply scoring a sh!t ton of points. Not going to promise anything more than first round exits, but I'll take that for now.