Malik Beasley was the best asset the Minnesota Timberwolves acquired in their recent trade. What will he bring to the Wolves?
Sure, Beasley lacks the star power and name recognition of a D’Angelo Russell, but NBA League Pass aficionados know how productive he is.
The Timberwolves have struggled to get consistent production from their backcourt, with outside shooting being the biggest hindrance. Despite ranking third in 3-point volume, the Timberwolves are No. 29 in accuracy. Beasley should help improve this from day one.
Beasley is already the Minnesota Timberwolves’ third-best 3-point shooter behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. If your two best shooters are your centers, you’re in trouble. As a 36 percent 3-point shooter, Beasley is a whole three percentage points better than the next best regular contributor.
Beasley isn’t much of a playmaker, so he won’t fill the point guard absence. However, his off-ball scoring will help improve the efficiency of the Timberwolves’ offense.
We know outside shooting has been a major problem for this team, but it isn’t because of poor shot selection. Per NBA Stats, the Timberwolves average 18.5 wide open (closest defender is 6+ feet away) threes per game. Unfortunately, they only make 35.4 percent of them which ranks 29th. The shot creation and offensive design are working, they just don’t have the roster to support it.
The addition of Beasley will be a major improvement in this area. According to Synergy, Malik Beasley ranks in the 83rd percentile on unguarded catch-and-shoot opportunities with 1.37 points per possession (PPP).
We’ve seen Towns take on more playmaking responsibilities this season. His floor vision and passing have improved, especially when he passes out of post-ups. Beasley will now be his prime target, which is an immense improvement over the previous options. When Beasley spots-up during post-up situations, he is scoring 1.278 points per possession (79th percentile).
Malik Beasley is already comfortable and used to playing with a playmaking center. In the below clip we can see how Beasley does a great job of recognizing how to make himself available. Beasley starts the play at the bottom of the video in the corner. As Nikola Jokic bangs in the post, Will Barton cuts into the lane. Barton catches his defender ball-watching, so Beasley’s defender must rotate over to prevent an easy layup. Beasley knows he is unguarded but isn’t open yet. As Jokic spins towards the middle of the lane, Beasley rotates to the top of the arc to give Jokic the easy passing lane for a wide-open three.
Beasley has also shown an improvement in attacking the rim out of spot-up situations. He is scoring 1.067 PPP when he gets to the basket after spotting up.
Here we can see a great display of Beasley’s quickness and athleticism. He starts the play as he so often does, spotting up in the corner. His defender is forced to shade towards the lane to account for the cutter. This creates a larger distance for him to cover on his closeout. Beasley recognizes how hard his defender is closing out. He uses a slight shot fake to freeze his defender and then flies past him. As Beasley attacks the rim, he shows off his athleticism by avoiding the defender for a dunk.
While Beasley will likely be used as a spot-up scorer, he is also deadly in transition. Shockingly, (not really) this is another area the Timberwolves struggle in.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are league average as they run in transition 14.8 percent of the time, but they are the least efficient team in the league scoring only 1.03 PPP, per NBA Stats.
Malik Beasley’s transition numbers are striking in comparison. According to Synergy, Beasley scores 1.254 PPP overall in transition (79th percentile), 1.526 PPP (89th percentile) when shooting from the left-wing, and 1.737 PPP (98th percentile) when shooting from the right-wing.
These are gaudy numbers that will be welcomed with open arms by the Timberwolves. Below Beasley displays his natural scoring instincts in transition. The second that the Rockets turn over the ball, Beasley turns to run in transition. Beasley knows exactly where he is going the entire time. If he cuts towards the rim, he becomes easy to defend. If he continues to the corner, his momentum creates a more difficult shot. By stopping his run right on the elbow, he catches the ball in stride, sets his feet, and knocks down an open three.
Beasley’s decisiveness and confidence in transition will be a great addition. In transition, the Timberwolves struggle with their spacing. They clog the lane or end up with a bad shooter taking a bad shot. This won’t be an issue with Beasley.
The Minnesota Timberwolves acquired a very confident scorer in Malik Beasley. His off-ball shooting will be a great fit with the improving playmaking of Towns and Wiggins. Beasley is an average defender and isn’t much of a playmaker. Even though are two major needs for this team, Beasley helps their lack of shooting.
This is a team trying to change its identity with outside shooting. Before Beasley, they were inefficient, unreliable, and flat out hard to watch. Malik Beasley gives them a reliable outside scoring option while fitting the identity they want to build.