Michael Beasley Is Becoming A Classic NBA Case Of Wasted Talent

By Tony Ramsey
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There is an old saying that goes, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” There is no clearer embodiment of this statement currently in the NBA than Michael Beasley.

Remember when Michael Beasley was in the discussion to be selected number one overall back in 2008? That was the same draft where the Chicago Bulls chose fellow freshman Derrick Rose with the top pick, and other current NBA stars O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love rounded out the top-five selections. At that time, Beasley was rated as a risk but also was said to have more talent than all of them. But sometimes, talent just isn’t enough.

To his credit, Beasley has had a decent statistical showing through his first four NBA seasons. He has averaged a respectable 14.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. But stats don’t tell the whole story.

The Miami Heat selected Beasley after a monster campaign at Kansas State where he completely dominated, putting up 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds as a freshman. In comparison, those are numbers that rivaled-if not surpassed- Kevin Durant’s freshman year at Texas the previous year. Beasley was supposed to be the Heat’s future star to be paired with Dwyane Wade. But sometimes, talent just isn’t enough.

Despite his talent and production, Beasley was viewed as a bit of character risk. Beasley did nothing to dispel this view of his image when he was fined $50,000 for an incident involving marijuana during the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program. Beasley went on to average 13.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 24.8 minutes as a rookie, but something was still off about his play. Eventually Beasley was checked into a rehab center during the summer following his rookie season.

Fast forward to present day, after the Heat dealt Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves for cash and a two second round picks (an amazingly low price for a No. 2 overall pick), and Beasley is still searching for his place in the league as a five-year vet. The Phoenix Suns signed Beasley to a three-year, $18 million dollar contract this past summer, but what have they gotten for their investment so far? Beasley is averaging a career-low 11.4 points per game and was recently benched in favor of a far less talented Jared Dudley.

Beasley is still wildly talented; he’s a 6’9” combo forward with shooting range that can create his own shot, and he’s only 23. Players with Beasley’s ability should flourish in the NBA. But sometimes, talent just isn’t enough.

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