Monday, October 4, 2010

Great (Pre-Season) Expectations

We're game number 3 into the NBA pre-season, but today saw the first match-up between two actual NBA teams (despite what you may think about Minnesota this year).

The Lakers and Timberwolves met in London in front of famous soccer players and other people I don't care that much about as a jingoist American, and shockingly the T-Wolves won. Sure, this isn't a real game, per se, as Pau Gasol and his not-ready-for-the-regular-season defense showed us. Kobe made sure to let us know what time of the year it is by kicking it on the bench for approximately all but 6 minutes of the game, which he usually won't do (probably). Don't worry, I won't go deep into a breakdown of how the Timberwolves rode Martell Webster's hot shooting, or how both teams turned the ball over a million billion times (a rough estimate).

However, I will regale you with a tale of Michael Beasley actually trying hard to do the right thing on the basketball court.

8 of 10 from the field, 1-1 from deep. 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 6 turnovers, 21 points. That's a lot of box score things to have in 18 minutes, you guys. It's also a mixed bag, because 6 turnovers is kind of a lot, even when you shoot really efficiently. 3 times as many turnovers as anyone else on his team had, to show you exactly how much "kind of a lot" is. But Beas is young, and this is the pre-season, so all of the numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt or three.

But what doesn't need to be taken with a grain of salt is the fact that Michael Beasley actually went out on a basketball court and played ball. He didn't hang around the perimeter taking bad shots, generally. He forced things, as 0 assists to 6 turnovers would indicate, but I'll call it passion. Passion is something The Beas hasn't shown on the court in some time, you guys. If he comes out with a mindset like he showed in this game, tempered with some Coach Rambis "try not getting the ball ripped from you so often" advice, then we might be looking at an actual new leaf turned. As in all that talk from David Kahn regarding Beas's head being right now that he's "not smoking marijuana anymore" could be, somehow, legitimate.

I wouldn't be writing about this good yet flawed showing from a player like Michael Beasley if the whole thing wasn't semi-shocking. He scored an And-1 over Pau Gasol, for God's sake. Pre-season or no, going up over Pau Gasol and finishing with soft touch is worthy of note when a player has had as much trouble as Michael Beasley has had, probably.

I could be stretching things, but I at least wanted to give you an idea of how wild and thrilling it can be to see Beas actually care about the game he gets payed to play.

Also, he mentioned bringing energy in an interview after the game. That's pretty common being-a-good-teammate-now stuff, right? But while doing so, he mentioned that he'd "go out and get a million blocks" if that's what energy means. He also actually said that he "was raised to be an assassin."

Hey, T-Wolves fans, you might have a motivated assassin on your hands this season. That's gotta be an NBA first, right? Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me.

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