Every year, the best and brightest basketball prospects from all over the world enter the NBA. As we have observed time and time again, only a few of them reach their maximum potential, and it’s not because of a lack of talent.
An interesting story by David Fizdale about the 2008 NBA Draft class reveals that some players are willing to put in the work right from the get-go. Others, meanwhile, have to be pulled out of their pajamas.
Dragging Beasley out of bed
In an interview from 2018, Fizdale was asked what Russell Westbrook’s mindset is coming into the season. Asked if Westbrook is more motivated than ever, Fizdale had no doubt that Russ would always go full throttle no matter the situation. To explain his point, the current Los Angeles Lakers assistant head coach shared a story about the difference in work ethic between Westbrook and Michael Beasley.
“The year that they were drafted—not to call out Beas—but one day we had to drag Beas out of the bed in Vegas to get him to the gym to work out. Russell Westbrook had already been in that same gym for two hours full-sweat. He asked Beas, ‘Where you been?’”
David Fizdale, via Stefan Bondy
“It was like, ‘Oh, is this how this kid really is?’ He went a whole ‘nother hour going at the speed that you see him play. What I’m seeing now is just the byproduct of the work that this kid has put in,” Fizdale said.
2008 Draft Class
Beasley and Westbrook were part of the 2008 NBA Draft Class. Beasley was picked second and was highly touted to become a big star in the league. Westbrook was picked fourth, but there was much more expectation and hype surrounding Beasley, and not just because he was picked two spots above the UCLA product.
Beasley was a decorated high school and college player. Scouts deemed that his playstyle, size, and overall skill would translate well in the NBA.
Beasley and Westbrook were on par in their first two seasons. In Beasley’s third year, amid being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was still able to do well for himself and even averaged a career-high 19.1 points per game. However, his rise would stop there.
Westbrook, meanwhile, would forge his way into elite status. In his fourth year in the league, Westbrook, together with Kevin Durant and James Harden, led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals.
Based on Fizdale’s story, we could easily say that Beasley’s decline was due to his lack of effort and dedication. However, let’s note that the Kansas product also suffered several injuries early in his career. Apart from this, off-court issues marred Beasley’s reputation in the eyes of NBA executives. These realities also contributed to his failure to showcase his actual skill. It says a lot about him as a person for sure. But it also says a lot about the misfortunes one can experience in this world.
Whatever the case may be, Beasley is still respected among basketball circles as one heck of a talent. Beasley knows this for a fact. As he once said, “I’m your favorite player’s favorite player.”