Phoenix Suns Practice Report: Lindsey Hunter Talks Michael Beasley and Defense


Don’t forget that Michael Beasley averaged 19.2 points per game in 2010-11 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo Credit: Keith Allison,

We hear Phoenix Suns coach Lindsey Hunter preach defense on a daily basis. In every interview, press conference or off-the-cuff chat, he talks about wanting his players to step up their defensive game. What we don’t often hear is Hunter praising Michael Beasley for his defense. That is, until today.

It’s no secret that Beasley can be an offensive juggernaut in the NBA, given the opportunity. This is the man who averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds per game at Kansas State as a freshman. If you don’t remember how dominant he was, take a look at the video below.

It’s that kind of passion and excitement that seems to be lacking in Beasley’s game this year. I asked him how difficult it is to prepare for games when he doesn’t know whether he’ll play five or 25 minutes.

"“I just have to come in with no expectations. Prepare the same way no matter what. I’ve been doing it my whole career. No expectations.”"

While Beasley certainly has the right attitude and says the right things, it’s hard to see how a player can fight through such inconsistent playing time without having doubt or frustration creep in.

During the 2012-13 season, Beasley’s minutes have been all over the board:


0-9  = 8
10-19 = 17
20-29 = 30
30-39 = 7
40+ = 1

Beasley went through a prolonged stretch from Jan. 12 through Feb. 12 where he was consistently getting 20-29 minutes per game. During those 15 games, he averaged a very respectable 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 24.7 minutes per game.

Then his minutes were drastically cut for the next eight games and his production suffered. He averaged just 4.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.6 assists in just 13.1 minutes per game.

Through Beasley’s last six games, his minutes (and production) have risen again. He’s back up to 13.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 22.7 minutes per game.

Hunter pointed to Beasley’s defense as a big reason why he fared so well against the Washington Wizards (21 points in 23 minutes) on Saturday, March 16.

"“We watched him. He was much more active and aware defensively. That’s the key with (Beasley). When he’s playing like that defensively, he seems to play much better on the offensive end. The key is getting him to play like that all of the time.”"

It’s a delicate situation because a player will take as many minutes as they can get, but if they’re playing inconsistently, the coach will start to pull minutes away. When the coach limits minutes, it can be hard for a player to regain that consistency, especially when they don’t have time to get into the rhythm of the game.

The Suns aren’t making the playoffs this year and are working each day to get better. Sure, there are going to be some bumps in the road, but if it’s about looking to the future, then the Suns need to unleash Beasley and let him do what he does best. It’s time to let Beasley get back to being the dominant, active, emotional guy he was at Kansas State.