We were warned.
Malik Beasley told us in the pre-season press conference that he was a starting caliber shooting guard and that he would show us. It’s getting harder and harder to deny Beasley’s abilities.
Want to know how far Beasley has come from the end of Michael Malone’s bench last season? When Jimmy Butler had his meltdown in Minnesota and was the mention of all the trade rumors, pundits crossed the Nuggets off the list, reasoning that Denver already had a younger version of Butler in Beasley.
At this point, I’m not sure Beasley isn’t better. He’s physically gifted but his attitude and camaraderie with his fellow Nuggets separate him from the brooding Butler.
In a breakout performance that felt like it had been brewing for weeks, Beasley dropped 35 on the Rockets in a combination of demoralizing dunks and threes that Houston couldn’t overcome.
He was 12/17 from the floor, 5/9 from three, had two rebounds, three assists and a steal. He seemed everywhere and his outburst was measured, precise. He finished with a +19 rating.
Never a standout defender, he’s become much more adept on that end of the floor and has become invaluable to the Nuggets. Beasley is in the Barton role from last year, covering multiple positions, starting, coming off the bench, anything the Nuggets need, MBeasy is the swiss-army knife on Denver’s bench.
The Nuggets have now won seven of their last eight. They have regained the top spot in the West and if they can manage a win in a back-to-back in Minnesota on Saturday night, the Nuggets staff will coach the All-Star Game for the West. This is heady area for the Nuggets, the rise was not supposed to be this fast. Critical to this run has been the play of unsung guys like Beasley, Morris and Craig. The playoffs are coming, the more experience players get, the more ready Denver will be.