If it came down to lineage, Malik Beasley would be a star at whatever endeavor he chose to pursue. Both of his parents are actors whom have been featured in movies and commercials. Beasley, never pushed into having similar aspirations, is attempting to also stand out in his own role for a production that’s ideal for his development.
The Denver Nuggets’ roster is now distinct, after years of fruitless attempts to challenge the West’s elite. General manager Tim Connelly has utilized the NBA draft as the main source of adding young, high-upside talent to fill out his roster.
Plucking a gem from the second-round depths in 2014 in Nikola Jokic and opting to take offensively driven guards (Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray) with their first picks in consecutive years, Denver is building a nucleus worth monitoring.
The 19-year-old Beasley also is a factor in Denver’s progression, with the team using the No. 19 pick in this year’s draft to add the offensively gifted guard. Beasley’s tibia injury, and subsequent rehab, forced him to miss the entire Summer League, but he attempted to expedite his development in the offseason.
“I’ve been playing five-on-five now with a couple of great players, so that’s helped me out a lot to get used to it now,” Beasley told Ridiculous Upside. “It’s going to be tough, but I’ll get adjusted to it (the pace), learn from it and move on.”
Beasley said he’ll be ready for preseason and training camp. Along with re-acclimating himself on the court, Beasley is fostering relationships with other budding players on the roster.
“We all have good relationships,” Beasley said. “We all laugh and work hard. Since we’re young, we kind of know each other pretty well. We have great chemistry on the team already.”
Beasley doesn’t view his peers as adversaries. He’s embracing the similar qualities and attacking the chance to develop an early rapport. It’s understandable, because the rookie could grow up in the Nuggets’ system with competing guards in Mudiay and Murray.
He’s also not delineating his time towards worrying about playing time in Denver’s expansive backcourt.
“I’m going to be the best player I can be on and off the court,” Beasley said. “I just know that I’m going to work hard and not worry about when I’m going to play. At some point in time it will come.”
Beasley doesn’t have to expend massive amounts of energy trying to differentiate himself from Gary Harris, Mudiay or Murray. He’ll naturally bring a unique skill set to head coach Mike Malone’s system.
Malone’s trekked through NBA waters with an overlooked coaching career, having to extract wins from non-competitive rosters. Beasley only adds to the optionality Malone will have this season in the backcourt.
At 6’5” and 190 pounds, Beasley assumed the 1 and 2 positions for Florida State as a freshman last season. Averaging 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, the combo guard was exceptionally versatile and attracted late season buzz from draft evaluators.
Denver arguably drafted Jamal Murray to essentially become their quintessential spark plug of the bench in his rookie season. While Murray’s knack to accumulate points in nearly unparalleled among his rookie peers, Beasley is unequivocally the superior physical specimen.
Beasley seems to glide on dunk attempts and his plus-graded athleticism allows Malone to run him in pick-and-roll looks or backdoor alley-oop attempts. However, Beasley remains coy about showing off when dunking.
“Like the best usually say, ‘It’s only two points,’” Beasley said. “It gets the crowd going – that’s the main thing.”
Malone’s breakneck, uptempo pace caters to Beasley’s attributes and motor, but Beasley also differentiates himself from the other guards on the roster. His chain movements of board cleaning and then pushing the break himself could be lethal.
Rebounding is another trait that could help Beasley garner playing time in a crowded guard rotation. Beasley’s exceptional 15.1 Defensive Rebound Percentage stems from his athleticism.
Even if he doesn’t simply “take it and push,” Beasley could let the primary lead guards handle the ball and operate as an off-ball guard.
“I learned how to play without the ball at a young age,” Beasley said. “I played with such great players [like] Kobi Simmons and Josh Coleman and in college I played with Dwayne Bacon. Being able to move without the ball helped me a lot and I think it’ll help me in the NBA.”
Having to share time, and the ball on offense, with other talents who’ve yet to hit age 20 is a battle few first-round picks have to endure. Beasley is hoping that what he has to offer can stand out as he fulfills his lifelong goal of playing in the NBA.
Beasley’s eager and positive approach to his initial role on the team can set up his career and prolong his longevity as an NBA combo guard. He’s poised to make an impact: one that’ll allow him to stand out eventually in Denver.