Giannis Antetokounmpo has missed the Milwaukee Bucks‘ last two games, and Michael Beasley has taken full advantage.
Don’t worry, Giannis, your starting job is safe. But, Beasley is making a strong case to be the seventh — or possibly sixth — guy off the bench with his recent play. Keep in mind that this sample size is small, but we saw this last year when he was with the Houston Rockets. With Antetokounmpo sitting the two most recent games, B-Easy has scored 44 points on 63 percent shooting and is doing so by himself.
On the year he’s averaging about nine points on 51.9 percent shooting, but, per 36 that number balloons 19.6. Who doesn’t love adjusted stats?
His offensive game is nicely polished and well-rounded, and Beasley is crafty when attacking the hoop to make up for his lack of athleticism. He’s far from a bad athlete, but he’s not as explosive as some of his contemporaries. One thing that stands out, specifically against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, was his proficiency from the triple threat position, and the Spurs’ defenders allowed him to get to his left hand on multiple occasions.
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Beasley attempted just one three that game, which he made, but the reason he was able to penetrate so often is the same reason Giannis is able to. The Bucks don’t shoot a ton of threes (23.7), but their percentage is ninth-best in the NBA (36.8). Five guys — excluding Thon Maker — make more than 37 percent, and three make more than 40, thus putting teams in a pickle.
They don’t want to help off their man because it’s nearly automatic, so Beasley got into the paint at will and the second guy wouldn’t help until he was already below the free throw line. At that point, one of two things will happen, a layup or a dump off to Greg Monroe. Beasley is no slouch from three himself, but he doesn’t need to shoot that many because the floor is split like the Grand Canyon.
When he does decide to fire away, it’s typically a great result, and Beas has nailed 10-of-21 attempts from behind the arc this year. That 47.6 percentage means defenders need to get a bit closer than they would like, and his rip-through move going left is looking as great as anyone’s over these last two contests.
If he doesn’t become the sixth man, Jason Kidd shouldn’t hesitate to make him Antetokounmpo’s backup, and the things Beasley can do allows him to run with either the starters or the second unit.
Stats are from Basketball-Reference.com or NBA.com unless otherwise noted
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