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Malik Beasley Needs to Buy Into the 6th Man Role

An important role for an important player

NBA: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Beasley is going to play an important role for the 2021-22 Timberwolves, but we can only hope it’s one he’s willing to play. He’s coming off a season where he was finally let loose more than ever before and he showed he is a solid NBA player on the offensive side of the ball. As the team battled through injuries, Beasley was given a clear starting job and I’m not sure if he’ll be super inclined to give that up. I think he’s going to need to not only give up starting for this season, but also embrace the 6th man role for the team to be successful.

Beasley saw career highs in every category when measuring an increase in how much a player was utilized last season.

  • 32.8 MPG (previous high was 23.2)
  • 16.2 FGA (previous high was 9.7)
  • 19.6 PPG (previous high was 11.3)
  • 24.0 USG% (previous high was 22.0%)

Even if Beasley was set to start again next season, I think those would all naturally drop with the health of Towns, Edwards, Russell, and the addition of Beverley. The natural drop plus the drop from not being a starter could hurt his morale, but it will be what the team needs.

Bleacher Report put out a projected starting five for each NBA team and this was the Timberwolves group.

  1. D’Angelo Russell, PG
  2. Malik Beasley, SG
  3. Anthony Edwards, SF
  4. Jaden McDaniels, PF
  5. Karl-Anthony Towns, C

I know those writers at BR don’t watch the Wolves and I don’t blame them, but this won’t work. There is only one player who can play good defense, Jaden McDaniels, and the advanced numbers were horrible when he was the power forward next to Karl-Anthony Towns last season. The best way to maximize that group is to take out Beasley, move Edwards to SG, McDaniels to SF, and then insert Jarred Vanderbilt as the power forward.

Doing that allows for Beasley to move to the second unit and be the first man off the bench, replacing Russell. The Wolves don’t lose any scoring and the defense stays equally bad, as Edwards runs the point and Beasley gets the shots.

It’s all a lot simpler and easier to say right now rather than when the games are actually going on, but I think I figured out the rotation to get the Wolves to the championship. Here’s a YouTube video I made about the BR starting five.

That’s all the simple side of this conversation. Just tell Malik the team will be better if he isn’t starting! Simple, right? I’m not sure, because there’s also the emotional and the prideful side to it. Malik Beasley carries himself like he thinks he’s the best player in the world. That’s an excellent trait to have and one you sometimes need as an NBA player.

I think last season really allowed for him to go out and show he’s the guy that can go score 40 and the guy who should get the ball with one second left. Jumping from being a solid role player to the 30+ minute per game shooter that he was last season was exactly what Beasley has been waiting for. How will he react when coach Finch tells him they’d rather play McDaniels and Vanderbilt to start?

The one thing everyone can trust to stay consistent is simple — winning cures everything. If Beasley is coming off the bench and the team starts 5-2, then everything should be all good. If it's the other way around at 2-5 or so, then someone like Beasley will likely want his old role back. Winning cures everything. We saw it with Ricky Rubio last season, when he said he was cool coming off the bench, so long as the team was winning. Spoiler alert, they weren’t winning.

Winning cures everything. Unfortunately this is a Timberwolves blog so these are questions that have to be raised. Malik Beasley is an important player who will be coming off the bench. Will he embrace it?