Beasley seemingly regressing

March, 19, 2010

Stop me if you've heard this before: Despite an otherworldly performance from Dwyane Wade (36 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists), the Miami Heat fell to the Orlando Magic in overtime thanks to modest contributions from his teammates.

Dwyane Wade, Heat: 36 points (9-of-10 from the line), 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 3-pointers, 1 steal and 1 block versus the Magic.
Rashard Lewis, Magic: 24 points (8-of-17 from the field, 4-of-4 from the line), 11 rebounds, 4 3-pointers, 2 blocks and 1 steal versus the Heat.
Nene, Nuggets: 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks versus the Hornets.
Michael Beasley, Heat: 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal in 32 minutes versus the Magic.
David West, Hornets: 14 points on 7-of-16 from the field (zero free throw attempts), 6 rebounds, 5 turnovers and 2 assists versus the Nuggets.
Chauncey Billups, Nuggets: 10 points (2-of-12 shooting, 6-of-6 from the line), 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and zero 3-pointers versus the Hornets.

And once again the biggest disappointment on the court was Michael Beasley, who sported a team-worst minus-13 plus/minus as well as a team-high four turnovers. Despite an incredibly productive college career, Beasley has simply been unable to take advantage of his enormous talents, even regressing, on a per-minute basis, from his rookie year. The opportunity is there -- he is second on the team in shots and minutes and has started 65 games this season compared to 19 last season -- but Beasley has disappointed time and time again.

Indeed, Beasley's stock has fallen so far that it was rumored the Heat didn't have the ammo to acquire Amare Stoudemire because the Phoenix Suns weren't high on Beasley. And if Wade bolts Miami and signs with another team in the offseason, you can look no further than the deadened development of Beasley as the main reason why.

Of course it's never smart to write the obituary of any 21-year-old, and talent often finds a way to win out in the end. But when you toss in all the mental questions surrounding Beasley and his tendency to drift aimlessly on the court, it's now fair to question just what Beasley's ceiling is.

Looking Back

Matt Barnes logged an eye-popping 40 minutes Thursday, and with Mickael Pietrus (ankle) out for a week, 30-plus minutes could become the norm in the short-term. Barnes scored 13 points, pulled down nine rebounds and handed out three assists. His offensive versatility combined with his hard-nosed defense makes him worth watching. ... It took only 22 minutes for J.R. Smith to jack up 18 shots, and surprisingly only three were from long distance; he hit seven shots, good for 17 points. He has not been shy about looking for his shot recently, as he's averaging 14.6 shots and 7.4 3-point attempts per game this month. Considering he's shooting 37.4 percent from beyond the arc since the All-Star break, that can only be seen as a good thing. ... There's still no concrete news on Chris Paul (knee), who was careful not to commit to a return date in an interview with TNT's Cheryl Miller. Paul owners won't stop holding their breath until he returns. At this point the New Orleans Hornets know they're out of the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see if they are truly committed to Paul's return, or if they're playing sly.

Looking Ahead

Thabo Sefolosha could be a sneaky play this weekend against the Toronto Raptors (30th in defensive efficiency) and the Indiana Pacers (15th on defense but second in pace per game), especially if you're trying to squeeze in every extra game you can. The loss of James Harden should open up a few more minutes for Sefolosha, and that could be all he needs since he's versatile enough to fill up a box score even when his shot is off. ... A 38.4 percent shooter against the best defense in the NBA? Make sure Trevor Ariza is nowhere near your active lineup versus the Boston Celtics on Friday. ... Kirk Hinrich is shooting a respectable 36 percent from beyond the arc since the All-Star break, and is a good bet to drain multiple 3-pointers against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, who possess the league's worst opposing 3-point percentage (39.8 percent) by a mile.



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