photo by slashfilm
David Kahn’s ever present smirk must’ve crept another quarter inch up the side of his face this week. It certainly isn’t the time for ‘I told you so’, but it is becoming clear that he’s onto something.
This team is relatively deep, versatile and its pieces may be more complementary than we thought. The Wolves should be able to score with more ease and efficiency than last year through a stronger frontcourt and capable wingmen. Kevin Love is no longer the only willing passer on the block, Nikola Pekovic is the bruiser we’ve lacked for quite some time and Wesley Johnson is looking like a lot more than a consolation prize in the Evan Turner Sweepstakes.
Now we don’t want to make the mistake of reading too much into two preseason games- like those parents proudly posting a summer school B+ on the refrigerator, but we should still identify with the sentiment. It’s nice to know your kid isn’t as dumb as you’ve been told.
And that’s just the thing. These are still kids. There will be flashes of potential that will have us beaming with pride and there will be plenty of times that make you want to take off your belt. Any team that can consider Sebastian Telefair an elder statesman is going to have its growing pains. These are young players, many of whom are playing out of position and looking to shed poor reputations. So it’s important not to let the past get in the way of an honest assessment on their development.
Which brings us to Sebastian Pruiti’s analysis of Michael Beasley, in which he claims our tweener forward is doomed to a life of mediocrity. On the court at least. Sayeth the Pruiti…
“Why do I think that? Because playing consistently is a mindset. It has nothing to do with talent at all.
I have to say, I believe Michael Beasley is destined to be inconsistent his entire career. He has all of the talent in the world, but I never think he is going to be able to display it on a nightly basis. So what makes me think this inconsistency will continue in Minnesota? All you have to do is look at his preseason performance in the first two games:
I feel like I should mention, that yes, I understand that this is the preseason and that you can’t really judge much from it. But I think mentality and decisions like whether or not someone drives or settles for the jumper can be – to me, it isn’t that Beasley went 4-12 against the Knicks after going 8-10 against the Lakers, its how he did it….
….To sum things up, Beasley has the skills to be a very good player. However, the mental aspect of the game is holding him back, and in my opinion it will prevent him from ever being a star. I realize people are going to think I am making these decisions based on two preseason games, but I am not. It’s more than just the performance and the numbers, its how he goes about it.”
While Pruiti has put forth solid examples supporting his theory, it does deserve a bit more context. These are not only Beasley’s first two games of preseason, they’re the first two games of preseason with new teammates, a new position and a new system, one that’s confounded much savvier players than he. Any struggles with consistency from now ’til February could be no more of an issue than a young man finding his niche.
Let’s not dismiss this entirely either. At what point do we have to consider that Super Cool Beas can only be himself? Questions have been raised about his potential before, mainly stemming from his ADHD and fondness for Mary Jane Juana. Beasley says they’re broken up and that’s all in the past, but so is the rookie symposium bust, the rehab, the SpongeBob marathons and the Tito comparisons.
Putting too much emphasis on any of this is doing him a disservice, but so is pretending it never happened. Beasley doesn’t possess the ball handling skills of an ideal hybrid such as Lamar Odom or LeBron James, so he can’t display the same open court brilliance or finesse his way through half court sets. This is a player who is too small to play where he may be most productive and not quick or skilled enough for the position he’s best suited. There will be much trial and many errors, however with less pressure, surrounded by better talent and ample opportunity, it’s not naive to expect more. Pruiti is absolutely correct in his assertion that Beasley’s mentality will be the deciding factor of whether he will succeed or not, but it is far too early to know what that mindset is. Right?….Right?
Conversely, there shall be no doubts about what’s on Darko Milicic’s mind. Buckets, more buckets, and possibly french fries. As the Serbian gangster told our friends at SLAM earlier this week
And what about himself; will he be looking to score more now Jefferson’s gone?
“You know, I have that shit in me, I just didn’t have a chance to use it,” he said. “I used to be offensive, I used to be a three-point shooter. So for me, I’ve just got to switch the flip and have that offensive mind-set.
“It’s what I used to do before I got to the NBA, and it’s what I’m going to try to do again.”
David Kahn deserves more credit than he’s received for this summer’s haul, however he also needs to be aware that he’s not only collecting talent, but combustible personalities. And he’s only onto something as long as they are.