Playing for the Timberwolves has offered Malik Beasley an opportunity to play major minutes and have a primary scoring role unlike in Denver, when he wasn’t playing the kind of minutes he is now.
So when Beasley first arrived in Minnesota, he wanted badly to prove himself.
“The first couple games I actually have been trying to find my own shots and forcing stuff, because I was trying to make a name for myself,” he said. “But that’s the learning. I was telling myself I could just play myself and let the game come to me, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
It seems to be working. Beasley has averaged 26 points over the past two games, and perhaps it’s no coincidence the Wolves have won both, the first time in nearly two months they won two games in a row.
Beasley counted another instance when he didn’t force the issue, and the Wolves won that one too.
“When I let the game come to me, we’re 3-0,” Beasley said. “I feel like when I’m able to play the right way and be a true leader, and not just worry about myself, it’s like taking my game to another level, because I can get to my spots, get to the right plays, set up guys knowing that they’re chasing me or things like that.”
Beasley has gone from a relative unknown to many Wolves fans to “how can the team re-sign this guy in the offseason?” rather quickly. Beasley is a restricted free agent, and he is making himself some money with this stretch of play for his new team. One of the developments to watch closely, should the Wolves re-sign him, is how he plays off point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Beasley offered a glimpse into how that pairing is going, and how they create scoring opportunities for each other.
“After every game we watch film together on the plane and things like that,” Beasley said. “I think we really pick each other apart and really using our talents to both of our abilities. They’re using me like [New Orleans’] J.J. Redick, so now I’m really able to set screens for him, because they’re so worried about me.
“And when he gets going, when they’re trapping, you get that pocket pass to Naz [Reid], or it’s me on the single side, or if they don’t help off me, Naz has got an easy dunk. So we’re just all playing together and off each other.”
Russell said Beasley deserves a lot of credit for how the Wolves have played of late.
“I’m just excited to have two young guards playing off of each other,” Russell said. “His growth over there in Denver from Year 2 to Year 3, he’s gotten better. I enjoy just playing with him and watching his growth at that.”
Beasley has taken to a leadership role with the Wolves, something that is also new in his career, and he’s learning how best to help his teammates while helping himself. It’s a process that sounds harder than it is.
“I feel like I slowed the game down [Tuesday at New Orleans], and [Wednesday vs. Chicago] was even easier,” Beasley said. “It’s becoming more natural, easier for our team to get to our spots and these sort of things.”
Beasley has been finding his spots just fine. Since joining the Wolves, he is shooting 44% on nearly nine three-point attempts per game. Compare that to 36% with the Nuggets on nearly four attempts per game. It’s no wonder he has been in a good mood.
“We’ve got a lot of great pieces, a lot of guys who are competitive, a lot of guys who want to be the best,” Beasley said. “When you’ve got that, it’s nothing but wins and positivity if you just put the foundation together, and we’ve done that.”