Through just 42 games (although it probably took much less than that), Patrick Beverley has become the heart and soul of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ top-10 defense.
Beverley was traded to the Wolves from the Memphis Grizzlies (a team he never actually played for), in exchange for former No. 6 overall pick Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez.
The Memphis Grizzlies are trading Patrick Beverley to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 17, 2021
After being on a solidified playoff contender in the Los Angeles Clippers for four seasons, Beverley was sent to Minnesota (not exactly LA, in many ways). This was a move that seemed valuable only for the Wolves, as players like Beverley (aging, yet still very valuable) typically find themselves trying to decide which title-contending team they'd like to join. However, Beverley seemed happy to be here from the jump.
So happy about the trade. New start in Minnesota. Some young thirsty guys wanting to Win. #GloryToGod— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) August 18, 2021
Enough about how he got here. This is a midseason review.
He’s been phenomenal. That could be the whole article.
As soon as the trade went through, there were questions about where and how Beverley fit into the rotation. He started the year coming off the bench, but quickly took over the starting point guard position (or one of the two guard positions, at least). His backcourt pairing with D’Angelo Russell seemed like a natural fit, with one excelling on offense and the other on defense.
Beverley has historically been a good off-ball player on offense (career 39.4% 3P% from the corners, above 42% in his previous three seasons), while Russell thrives with the ball in his hands. Beverley can be a point-of-attack defender and pester the other team’s guards, while Russell can.... hide on the other team’s worst offensive player. In all seriousness though, Russell has improved on defense this season. His new role as “defensive quarterback” allows him to be a vocal leader and organize the team without having to guard on-ball.
In the Wolves defense, D'Angelo Russell gets to play the pick up football version of the guy who is "guarding" the QB -- but really just drops back in coverage looking for doubles and interceptions.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) January 12, 2022
And he loves that role.
(check out that thread for a nice video example from @WolvesClips)
For Beverley, he’s once again showing out on the defensive end. Although, it’s slightly different from years past. He still has a defensive rating of 107.6, which is solid, but what’s most valuable is his guidance and leadership. The Wolves have lacked a vocal defensive leader for a while, and Beverley has answered the call.
As for offense, the two-man pair of Russell and Beverley (327 minutes played) is +23 per 100 possessions, a team high. Beverley doesn’t have nearly as much success with the other bench guards, as he’s -6.6 with Malik Beasley (366 minutes played) and -22.6 with Jaylen Nowell (62 minutes played).
Beverley’s shooting what would be a career-worst 3P%, hitting at just a 31% clip. However, we’re just halfway through the season. It’s likely that percentage gets closer to his career average of 37.9% as the season goes on. Before the game against Memphis on Jan. 13, he was shooting 42.7% from the field, which would be the third-highest mark of his career, trailing only the 2019-2020 and 2015-16 seasons. However, after a 1-9 shooting night his average dropped down to 41.4%, almost exactly the same as his career average of 41.5%.
Injury concerns have been a thing for Beverley in recent years, as from 2017-18 to 2020-21 he’s played in 11, 78, 51, and 37 games. This season he’s missed 13 games due to health and safety protocols, a groin injury, and an adductor strain. It’s expected for a smaller guard on the wrong side of 30, but what’s unique to Beverley is his ability to affect the game from the bench.
Being the vocal leader that he is, he's often shouting from the bench organizing the team. As a young group, the Wolves desperately needed someone like this going into the season. It can't just be the coaching staff that yells from the bench. A veteran leader that does that — one that’s respected by his teammates — is an incredibly valuable asset.
That’s exactly what Beverley is. It’s what he’s always been.
And it’s been invaluable for the Wolves.