Beasley piling up points for Wolves
By Jon Krawczynski, AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's taken a few weeks for Michael Beasley to find his way in the Minnesota Timberwolves offense.
Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis has flooded the 21-year-old with re-sponsibilities, asking him to play two positions, be aggressive, but not too aggressive and take over when the time is right.
The message appears to be getting through.
For a player who was labeled irresponsible in his first two seasons in Miami, Beasley is embracing his role as the go-to guy in his first season in Minnesota. He scored a career-high 42 points in a win over the Kings last week, followed that up with 35 in a win over the Knicks and is averaging 32.5 points over the last four games.
Beasley's scoring binge has helped the Wolves go 2-2, showing a feistiness that wasn't there early in the season -- or for the last five years, really.
Beasley welcomed a baby boy into his family on the same day he hung 42 on the Kings and is quickly settling into his new surroundings after two so-so seasons to start his career.
"I feel at home," Beasley said. "I definitely feel at home, on the court and off."
The precocious personality and free-wheeling spirit never really felt comfortable on South Beach after the Heat made him the No. 2 overall pick in 2008. He never got into the flow of the offense playing with Dwyane Wade and ran into problems off the court.
The Heat sent him to Minnesota in a salary dump to create room for LeBron James and Chris Bosh this summer. Rather than feel sorry for himself in basketball's version of Siberia, Beasley has shown signs of blossoming into the kind of player everyone thought he could be when he was drafted.
It's still very early in his first season with the Timberwolves, but teammates, coaches and fans are liking what they see so far.
"He's very outgoing," Rambis said. "He has a lot of fun playing. He loves the game of basketball. We certainly enjoy his enthusiasm."
And his game isn't too shabby, either. It's been a long time since the long-suffering Timberwolves have had a player with the kind of offensive versatility that the 6-foot-9 Beasley has at his disposal. He can get to the rim, knock down the 3 and create his own shot, a revelation for a team that has had to work so hard for offense in recent seasons.
"His talent is through the roof," shooting guard Wayne Ellington said. "He's just a baller man. Flat out."
Starting at small forward rather than his normal power forward, Beasley is shooting 55 percent from the field and 58 percent (7 for 12) from 3-point range during his surge, and is gradually picking up all the things that Rambis wants him to do -- on both ends of the court.
"It's the hardest (basketball) thing I've ever done in my life," Beasley said. "I'm playing the three and the four on offense and defense. I'm banging with the big guys. I'm chasing the little guys. It's just focus. ... It's all mental. Coach tells me before every possession. Every time he gives me a new job he tells me and I lock in and do it."
Rambis knows it's going to take time for Beasley to pick up all the nuances on offense and defense, but the coach is willing to let him learn on the job, especially when he's scoring like this.
"He's kind of learning a new way to play and a new position," Rambis said earlier this season. "He's got a lot to learn. We're just going to be extremely patient with him. He's a very talented, knowledgeable basketball player. I think you see him going through this trying to figure things out."
Beasley and 22-year-old rebounding machine Kevin Love are emerging as a formidable duo that the Wolves hope to build around for years to come. The youngest team in the league still hasn't established a pecking order for the fourth quarter, but Beasley is moving toward asserting himself as that guy.
"I would love for it to be me," he said. "I want to take that shot. I work every day for that shot. I shoot that shot a million times. I dream about that shot every night. I would love for it to be me. If it's not, I'm not mad. I just want to get the win. I would love to be that go-to guy. I would love to be the guy that carries that team."