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Readying For Michael Beasley To Hit the Next Frontier

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A Daily Babble Production

We might as well start now.  Because we'll need to brace ourselves.

In all likelihood, Michael Beasley's collegiate career came to an end yesterday, as his Kansas State Wildcats were wiped out of the NCAA Tournament by the Wisconsin Badgers.  Beasley put up a respectable 23 points and 13 boards for the game, but the nation's top-ranked defense held him to just six second-half points and 8-for-19 shooting for the game en route to a 72-55 victory.  For those who had not seen much of the nation's top freshman previously, Beasley certainly didn't appear to be a world-beater of any sort.

Which makes it all the more important that we continue to be on guard for what an absolute terror this guy is likely going to be at the next level.

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Full disclosure: I had the opportunity to be there in person for what actually turned out to be one of the worst games of the season for Beasley on an individual level, a 77-74 loss to Missouri in Columbia back in February.  One must understand, however, that what qualifies for one of Beasley's worst games involved a stat line that included 6-for-12 shooting, 17 points, 10 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals.  It also involved an ankle injury suffered less than two minutes into the game and, for those who saw the contest, just further visual evidence (in case the rest of the season wasn't enough) that this guy has what it takes to be a force.

Think, if you will, about Shawn Marion for a few seconds.  Marion is a pretty nice player, a very nice one, in fact.  He has made four All-Star appearances and been named to two All-NBA third teams.  His nickname is the Matrix because he can do just about everything.  Not too shabby a resume.

Now think about Shawn Marion with considerably more size and strength, admittedly a bit less consistency on defense but an individual offensive game that is light years ahead of what Marion's is now, and no chronic need for more respect.

Meet Michael Beasley.

Standing 6-foot-9 and weighing 235 pounds, Michael Beasley might look at first glance like the type of dude who posted up smaller guys in college and won't be able to hit the same level of success against those with size in the NBA.

Not the case.

The man is a freak in the best way possible.

Beasley's offensive acumen boggles the mind.  In the smaller college game, he has been utilized at all three front court positions, from playing back-to-the-basket basketball as a de facto center to stepping outside as a small forward, and he can do it all well.  The southpaw from Kansas State can post up and get just about anywhere he wants around the rim, where he finishes very well with either hand.  He sees the floor fairly well and can move the ball out of the post with deftness when opposing defenses bring double teams at him down low.

Or he can just move on out of the post himself, because he is just as dangerous outside.  Beasley has a deceptively quick first step, allowing him to slash hard from the perimeter right through the middle of the lane.  He can work his way inside by simply attacking defenders and going right at the basket, since many of them don't quite have his strength or his quickness.  Beasley's ability to get in the lane both from the perimeter and in the post-up game helped enable him to shoot an efficient 53.6 percent from the field this season.

Those abilities also opened up the outside for him.  Because he handles the ball so well for a forward, and because of his quickness going to the basket, Beasley often puts defenses back on their heels, which allows him to pull up and shoot from the outside, which he is perfectly happy to do.  Oddly enough, his team is happy to see him do so as well, because (unlike Marion) he is a very good outside shooter.  Beasley shot nearly 40 percent from deep on the season, and it didn't hurt that his shooting finesse carried on inside to the charity stripe as well, where he shot 76.8 percent on the season.

Post up.  Face up.  Handle the ball.  Slash.  Shoot.

Michael Beasley can do all those things on the offensive end of the floor.  It is why the 26.3 points per game he averaged in his lone college season isn't a figure to be taken lightly.  This guy has the tools to be able to function at both the three and the four in the pros, and he has the tools to do it well.  Extremely well.

The fact that the man jumps very well doesn't hurt either, as his boxing out, long arms and ability to be the first to loose balls helped him pull down 12.3 boards on the season.  While there have been some questions about Beasley's work ethic on the defensive end, he has the potential to become excellent at that less glamorous part of the game as well.  On sheer talent alone, Beasley can do a serviceable job defensively, because he has the quickness to cause problems for fours and the strength to out-muscle threes.  Furthermore, his wingspan and jumping ability lead to him getting his share of blocked shots (1.7 per game this year) and naturally discouraging folks from looking to take too many liberties in the paint with him.  If he decides to commit to really pushing himself on this end of the floor (certainly no guarantee in today's NBA), there is no telling what Beasley could be capable of as a defender.

He can (and already does) score any way he wants.  He is a truly special athlete.  He has what it takes to be a great defender.  He may have had some work ethic issues in the past, but word is that he isn't some sort of jerk either (always a nice bonus).

Michael Beasley is no perplexing tweener.  He is just a dude who has the ability to be very effective in his work at both frontcourt positions in the Association.

And he is going to be a joy (and beast) to watch no matter where he does that work.