With two games in the books in the 2011-12 NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves hold a disappointing 0-2 record.
We’ve seen the good– Kevin Love two straight double-doubles including a 34 point 20 rebound performance on Tuesday against the Bucks.
We’ve seen the bad– Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic, and Ricky Rubio’s facial hair.
But the most frustrating aspect of the first two games has been the enigma that is Michael Beasley.
The dreadlocks are gone, but Beasley has been the same player we saw a year ago.
Last year’s Timberwolves team won just 15 games while finishing last in the NBA. Beasley was that team’s go-to scorer.
And while Beasley was top-20 in the NBA in scoring last year, his player efficiency rating (PER) ranked 118th league wide. While he was scoring nearly 20 points per night, Beasley was more than lacking in the efficiency department.
2010-11 wasn’t a good year for the Wolves, and it was a year that proved Beasley isn’t an elite player in this league.
Entering the 2011-12 season, there was hope in the Twin Cities that this would be a new look squad. And while big name rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams have played a contributing role to the Wolves this season. One thing remains the same; Beasley thinks he is an elite player and his hurting the team as a whole.
Lets look at the numbers:
In 2010-11, Beasley was 118th in the league in PER with a 15.54 rating.
This season, after two games, Beasley’s PER is a woeful 13.0.
In 2010-11, Beasley averaged 19.2 points while taking 17 shots per night.
This season, Beasley is averaging 19.5 points while taking 20 shots per night.
While Beasley’s scoring is up after two games, his hideous PER from last year is more than 2.5 points lower this year.
If Beasley really wants to be an elite scorer in this league, he needs to become far more effective than his numbers have shown. Beasley needs to become more like childhood friend Kevin Durant. The same Durant who tore up Beasley in game one.
Durant put up 33 points on just 23 shots on Tuesday night. While, on the contrary, Beasley scored 24 points on 27 shots.
(NOTE: On the Tuesday night opener, the rest of the Wolves scored 76 points on just 60 shots.)
By looking at the numbers, it becomes even more apparent that Beasley is far from being an elite NBA players. But the even more agonizing part of Beasley’s game has been his utter lack of growth in his maturity.
This is a young Timberwolves team that is lacking in the leadership department. And, gulp, Beasley was expected to be one of the Wolves’ leaders. But he as been the antithesis of a leader so far.
In game one against Oklahoma, Beasley let the sold-out Target Center crowd get the best of him; he shot too much, took bad shots, and was far too emotional and animated in front of the the Wolves’ faithful.
In game two against Milwaukee, Beasley was plagued by foul trouble which resulted in him acting like a 6-year old who didn’t receive any presents for Christmas.
The first two games have shown that the same struggles for a season ago are prevalent on this Wolves squad. Those struggles center around the enigma that is the boneheaded Michael Beasley.
Brett is a contributor to The Sports Bank. He covers all things Minnesota sports. You can follow him on Twitter @brettcloutier.
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