Minnesota Timberwolves need Malik Beasley to shake the rust off quickly

Malik Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves needs to shake the rust off quickly. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Malik Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves needs to shake the rust off quickly. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves welcomed Malik Beasley back to the lineup on Saturday night following a 12-game suspension.

If you were hoping that Beasley could step back in without skipping a beat and return to the dynamic guard slashing 45/40/85 field goal, 3-point, and free throw percentages, well … it didn’t happen in his first go at it.

The Wolves’ offense predictably struggled against a decent Houston Rockets defense. But it became that much more apparent that if Beasley can’t shake the rust off in short order, this Wolves team will almost certainly finish with the league’s worst record.

Minnesota Timberwolves’ offense is lost without peak Malik Beasley

The Wolves managed to go 4-8 in Beasley’s absence. While not good by any stretch of the imagination, the .333 winning percentage during that time is a solid notch above their season mark of .239.

Without Beasley, the Wolves tried various combinations including Jake Layman, Jarred Vanderbilt, Josh Okogie, and Jaden McDaniels in the starting lineup along with Ricky Rubio, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns. More than one of them will be the odd man out moving forward, but none of them have been particularly effective shooting the ball this season.

McDaniels has played mostly at the 3 since Chris Finch took over as head coach, and he carries a solid 36.1 3-point shooting percentage in addition to the defensive chops that neither Beasley nor Edwards offer on the wing.

But the other players who received a chance to start are a collective 35-for-135 (25.9 percent) from beyond the arc on the season. Actually, add in Edwards, who is shooting only 31.5 percent from deep on the year, and Wolves wings not named Beasley, McDaniels, or Jaylen Nowell are making only 29.8 percent of their 3-point attempts.

Additionally, McDaniels (36.1 percent) and Nowell (35.8 percent) have been roughly league-average, but Beasley is the only wing on the roster that is truly dynamic from the perimeter.

In Beasley’s first game back, he shot only 4-of-17 on the night and 3-of-12 on 3-point attempts. He was never comfortable and struggled on both ends of the floor.

The Wolves don’t have much margin for error, of course, and they needed Beasley to at least have a competitive game even to beat a shorthanded Rockets team that recently completed a 20-game losing streak and kicked away a 16-point lead to the Wolves just 24 hours prior.

An available and effective Beasley does more than just bring up the Wolves’ team 3-point shooting percentage. It goes without saying that even having one truly above-league-average option on the perimeter makes a world of difference when Towns, Rubio, and others are distributing to teammates. But Beasley can also stretch the floor and create space for Edwards and Towns to drive and operate in the paint.

That’s not the Beasley that we saw on Saturday. Hopefully, we aren’t too far away from enjoying the version that scored 21 points per game on 46.2 percent shooting from the floor and 42.9 percent on 3-point attempts in the month of February.

Next. 3 players affected by Malik Beasley's return. dark

Simply put, if the Wolves want to make any strides over the final six weeks of the season, they need Malik Beasley to come to the party.