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Memphis Grizzlies Film Lab: The Michael Beasley Experiment

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The Memphis Grizzlies love a reclamation project, so it's not really a surprise that they signed Michael Beasley to a non-guaranteed deal. But is this one too many reclamation projects?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Beasley is not the player he was supposed to be coming out of college. That cat was out of the bag a long time ago. He's struggled in numerous ways since entering the league, and he certainly hasn't lived up to the hype that comes with being a number two pick in any given NBA draft.

Now that the league's expectations for Beasley have been significantly lowered, it's time for him to adjust his game accordingly and try to fit in as a role player on any team that will take him. As it so happens, the Grizzlies are poised to give him that next chance.

It was recently announced that Beasley will attend Grizzlies training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. A non-guaranteed deal doesn't mean that Beasley will be with the team entering the regular season, but if that scenario does play out, what positives attributes would he bring, and in what areas could he hurt the Grizzlies?

Positive Areas

-Spot-Up Shooting-

Last season with the Heat, Beasley shot 36.8% from beyond the arc in spot up situations. Most of his three-point attempts (38/54) occurred in this type of situation, and it's easy to pinpoint why. With LeBron James, probably the best slasher in the entire league, drawing the attention of entire defenses as he drove the lane, Beasley was left wide open from deep numerous times. All he had to do was spot up and get ready to shoot when LeBron kicked it out.

The Grizzlies offense obviously works a bit differently given that the best player in the world isn't in the equation, so Beasley likely wouldn't have as much time to set himself perfectly before rising and firing. He'd have to work harder to get himself open on the perimeter, and that's not a great strength of his. However, defenses needing to account for the fact that he can knock down an open three would help floor spacing.


-Finishing in Transition-

One thing Joerger has harped on during his brief tenure as Grizzlies head coach is pushing the ball to attempt to create more easy buckets. The Grizzlies didn't get out and run a ton last season, but they were a good finishing team when they did, ranking 5th in points per possession (1.19) in transition situations per Synergy Sports.

Beasley, an athletically-gifted player, runs the floor and fills the proper lane well. He converted on 65.3% of his transition attempts last season. Playing Beasley as a change of pace backup big wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. He could exploit slower bigs that can't run with him, and the Grizzlies would accept any and all easy buckets to compensate for their patented offensive stalls at various points in a game.


-Post Ups-

Small ball is a tactic the Grizzlies might have interest in utilizing more during the playoffs to throw teams off balance and gain an advantage against the rare team that matches up well against them size-wise. Beasley would give them a quality small ball piece. He has never particularly excelled in the post, but his footwork, size, and go-to spin move allow him to take advantage of mismatches down low.

If the opposition chooses to defend him on the block using a smaller guy, he has the ability to either shoot over them or use his strength to back them down all the way to the rim. When he gets matched up with a big that can out-physical him, he can either shoot over them because they are forced to play off of him so they don't get beat by his quickness, or he can spin right around them and get to the rim when they overaggressively try to push him away from the basket.

Joerger liked to use Tayshaun Prince in post up situations last season because he creates a lot of mismatches for a defense with his rare size and length for his position, and Beasley could be used in much the same way. He can't be worse than Prince, right?


-Rebounding-

Beasley possesses incredibly long arms (7'0.25" wingspan) that make it easy for him to grab long rebounds and boards over smaller opponents. He's been a good rebounder since entering the league, holding a career average of 7.1 per 36 minutes. The Grizzlies were average on the boards last season, so adding more guys that rebound the ball well would be a tremendous help in that department. That's a huge reason why they drafted Jarnell Stokes, but you can never have enough good rebounders.

One of the best ways to create easy buckets is by grabbing offensive rebounds, something the Grizzlies have been good at in recent seasons. Beasley is an opportune offensive rebounder, and his prowess on the glass would certainly be welcomed.


Negative Areas

-Shot Selection-

Efficiency hasn't been Beasley's strong suit throughout his NBA career, and there's no reason to believe that would change if he played for the Grizzlies. The offense already struggles enough without throwing multiple bad shots a game by Beasley into the mix, and Joerger likely wouldn't put up with bad shot selection for very long.

No NBA team is likely to attempt to center its offense around Beasley ever again, and rightfully so. He can't seriously hurt a team with his inefficiency if he's taking very few shots. The problem is Beasley hasn't fully embraced the idea of being a role player yet. He's come a long way in trying to fit into a team concept, but the gunner side of Beasley still rears its head too often.


-Perimeter Defense-

It's no mystery that Beasley is a sieve on defense, and that doesn't fit with the Grizzlies style of play at all. The Grizzlies might have enough defensive firepower to cover for Beasley's deficiencies on that end, but that's not a headache Joerger necessarily wants to deal with given that Beasley would be rounding out the roster and not a featured piece.

Below, you can see that Beasley struggles immensely on closeouts. He is overaggressive and bites far too often on simple pump fakes. His defensive stance is poor and doesn't allow him to move his feet well, and his contests are often lazy. Also, WHY ARE YOU HELPING ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE COURT?


-Post Defense-

Despite his length, Beasley's not a tremendous post defender. He gets caught leaning too much into his man's body, making it easy for his opponent to simply spin off of him for an easy shot. Also, he allows his man to seal him deep under the rim, making a bucket inevitable unless he fouls. Adopting a lower stance and a consistent, shoulder width base with his feet could help Beasley tremendously as a post defender. He hasn't improved in that area through six seasons though, and it's not likely for him to improve greatly at this point in his career.


-Effort/Locker Room Presence-

Even in the limited clips above, Beasley's lack of effort is sometimes evident. When watching him over the course of any given game, it can be glaring. Given that he's already bad in multiple areas on the court, the least he could do is give great effort. It's well established that Beasley has, or has had, a drug problem. He was arrested for possession of Marijuana in 2013, and he's previously undergone drug rehab.

Additionally, he's supposedly been a negative presence in various NBA locker rooms because of his attitude. The Grizzlies have a veteran locker room, and that's certainly been used as a reason why Beasley could work in Memphis. However, were the Heat not a veteran locker room? He didn't do much for them last season, and they certainly showed little desire to keep him around for another season. There's a reason why so few teams even considered adding him to their roster this offseason. People can change, but Beasley hasn't shown an any evidence that indicates he want to change.

Beasley still has the potential and certainly the talent to help an NBA team, but given his severe defensive deficiencies, regular lack of effort, and supposed negativity he brings to a locker room, it's unlikely that he does enough things well for the Grizzlies to justify giving him the final roster spot.

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