StaTuesday: Beasley thriving in big role with Wolves

Although the new era of Minnesota Timberwolves basketball featuring D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns and a herd of 3-point threats has yet to take off and translate into wins, there has been one consistent force on the floor for head coach Ryan Saunders.

That would be Malik Beasley, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard acquired from Denver in early February via a four-team trade.

Beasley had been buried on Denver’s depth chart for years. In 41 contests for the Nuggets this season, Beasley ranked eighth on the team with an average of 18.2 minutes per game.

He’s finally getting his chance to shine in Minnesota. Beasley has started all six games with the Wolves since the trade and has made quite the impression.

Denver 41 18.2 7.9 1.9 1.2 38.9% 36.0%
Minnesota 6 33.8 21.8 6.0 2.0 44.9% 43.1%

This isn’t the first time the basketball world has witnessed Beasley thriving in a starting role.

When Denver’s starting guards Jamal Murray and Gary Harris struggled with injuries last year, the Florida State product started 18 games. In those 18 contests, Beasley logged 15.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 31.8 minutes per game while shooting 50% (54 of 108) from downtown.

It’s easy to read his averages in those games and assume Beasley’s numbers are better for the Timberwolves just because of an increase in playing time. But it’s a bit deeper than that. Through six games, it appears that Beasley is an even better fit to Minnesota’s system than he was in Denver. To prove this further, we turn to his per-36 minutes stats.

Denver 41 15.7 3.7 2.3 2.8 7.8
Minnesota 6 23.2 6.4 2.1 4.4 10.3

The Timberwolves are allowing Beasley to chuck up an abundance of field-goal attempts — 19.0 in Minnesota compared to 14.5 in Denver (per 36 minutes) — and it’s working. Beasley has tallied 20+ points in four of six games and has drained 3-pointers in all six contests with Minnesota. In fact, he’s made 4+ 3-pointers in four games, something he did just twice for the Nuggets.

Combine the results with Beasley’s hard work ethic on the court — something the Wolves had been lacking with former players —  and Minnesota could have a budding star on its roster.

Beasley is a restricted free agent following the 2019-20 season.

Glen Taylor, if you’re reading this: Pay the man.