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Malik Beasley gave the Denver Nuggets fans who found a way to watch the first preseason game quite a show in his NBA debut. In the virtually perfect first ten minutes of Beasley’s career, he shot 4-4 from the field while hitting a 3-pointer for a line of nine points, two rebounds and an assist with zero turnovers in ten minutes.
With a stellar mindset, extreme athletic ability, a jumper that is smoother than silk, defensive effort and an understanding of how to play within himself it seems that the Nuggets have an additional name to add to the list of potential future shooting guards of the Denver Nuggets.
While Jamal Murray is still the darling of the 2016 NBA draft for the Nuggets and the Gary Harris still improving every day, it has been Beasley who’s entered the season as the forgotten man. He has accepted his role as an end of the bench guard but has been outspoken on how willing he is to continue working on his own game and work his way through the ranks of the NBA.
“I just want to get better,” Beasley said on draft night. “I’m thankful for this opportunity, and whatever coach wants I’ll make sure I can do it for him. I’ve just got to make sure I put in a lot of hard work.”
The 19-year-old did much of the same when playing at Florida State. Beasley came into college somewhat unknown and proceeded to have one of the most efficient scoring seasons for a freshman. Beasley was not invited to the Nike Hoop Summit and was not a 2015 McDonalds All-American prior to playing collegiate basketball. He wasn’t a blue-chip recruit but he allowed his play at Florida State to speak for itself and he became one of the most productive scorers in college basketball at the young age of 18-years-old
In 23 games, before a bit of a slump in February, potentially due to the stress fracture in his right leg, Beasley was the only freshman guard in the country to post 20 points per 40 minutes while shooting an outlandish 55 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. Beasley, at the time, was the only Atlantic Coast Conference guard to average 17 points per game with a true-shooting percentage over 60 percent since 1992. The only other guard to post those numbers is NBA Champion Kyrie Irving, who only played in 11 games his freshman year at Duke. He was scoring from all over the court in a multitude of different ways and doing so at a historical rate.
Beasley’s offensive game is quite abstract for a hyper-athletic 19-year-old. On catch-and-shoot jump shots he scored an elite 1.175 points per possession when playing at Florida State. If his jumper translates he’s set up to be an absolute sniper at the NBA level.
Not only is Beasley above average from beyond the arc but his ability to finish at the rim and his use of a floater have even more so evolved his offensive repertoire. He’s started scoring from virtually every spot on the floor in the half court. Adding the benefit of NBA-level coaching and a couple years to get stronger and get his body in NBA could even further add to his already sound offensive game.
His athletic ability coupled with his pure shooting stroke also allows Beasley to take advantage in transition where he is lethal. He has a solid enough handle to rebound and push the ball up court, and the verticality to finish high above the rim with thunderous dunks in transition. With 26.9 percent of his offensive possessions coming in transitions in his lone year at Florida State, it seems that his fast-paced style will translate very well to the Nuggets as well as the NBA as a whole.
Beasley also uses his shooting ability and athletic gifts to attack closeouts aggressively and finish high above the rim, like he shows here when he obliterates Brandon Ingram.
While Beasley is very much so an energetic volume scorer, he finds different ways to contribute as well. For his size, he is an above average rebounder to the tune of 7.1 rebounds per 40 minutes with nearly 25 percent of his total rebounds being on the offensive end. While Beasley has been said to be a below average creator, he did show an aptitude to consistently make the right pass when swinging the ball around the perimeter.
Beasley has a high IQ for the game and a nose for the ball in addition to his already above average motor. He plays unselfishly and confidently while using his immense amount of energy to impact the game in many different ways but never seems out of control. He reminds me of a mix of Corey Brewer and Jamal Crawford.
These same traits translate defensively as well. Beasley tends to get a bit frantic in passing lanes and ends up lunging for steals which, as Malone says, leaves your team to play 4 on 5 basketball. His quickness and athletic ability are the tools to make up for his physical shortcomings but he has to learn to harness that energy. While he does have a way to go defensively it seems that he has no issue putting forth effort on the defensive end of the game.
With Harris, reportedly set to miss four to six weeks with a partially torn right groin which he suffered against the Toronto Raptors Monday, it seems that Beasley is in line for a jump in playing time. Beasley will need to prove that he can continue to produce offensively while staying highly efficient and not being a negative on the defensive end.
It will likely take a few years before Beasley can thoroughly contend for the starting shooting guard position on the Nuggets but he has all the physical tools and mental toughness to be a starting two-guard in the future. His style of play is complementary to Emmanuel Mudiay and his work ethic fits the culture of the Nuggets as a whole. If Beasley can stay as confident and under control as he was in his debut this could be the first monumental step toward relevance for the young shooting guard.