Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State

Malik Beasley entered his freshman season at Florida State on only the widest of radars. The Alpharetta, Ga., product didn’t compete in any elite high school showcases and wasn’t considered a blue chip recruit. Players like that generally don’t enter the draft after just one college season.

Beasley, however, improved immensely once he arrived in Tallahassee, rapidly becoming an efficient scorer and one of the best freshman in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The son of two actors, Beasley has a solid family foundation and the work ethic at just 19-years-old that bodes well for his basketball future. His average height at 6-foot-5 is balanced out by his eye-popping athleticism and the effort he plays with.

Strengths

Beasley brings a bundle of offensive moves to the table and is an aggressive defender that has the potential to be a solid two-way role player. He has a pretty stroke on catch-and-shoot plays, always ready to launch quickly with great form. He shot 39 percent from three at FSU and when he’s run off the 3-point line, his dribble pull-up from midrange can be deadly.

He’s not afraid of contact, often finishing strong against bigger players at the rim and when unable to get all the way to the basket, Beasley has shown an ability to hit floaters in the paint. Beasley’s game is at its best in transition, where he plays above the rim and runs the floor hard.

Those easy buckets helped Beasley score in double-figures in all but four games last season, with 11 20-plus scoring performances. He did most of this with a hairline stress fracture in his right leg which was repaired in April.

His leaping ability not only helps him as a finisher, but also as a tenacious rebounder among larger bodies. He averaged 5.3 rebounds per game during his freshman season.

Although his defense has room to grow, especially against bigger 2-guards, Beasley gives great effort and makes plays in the passing lanes. The fundamentals of individual and team defense can be taught, but not always the energy and instincts. Beasley brings that tenacity and awareness naturally.

In an interview with Draft Express, Beasley noted that he’s studying some of the greats in order to improve as a playmaker.

“People say I play like Wesley Matthews,” Beasley said.

If that ends up being true, he’ll be one of the steals of the draft who’s currently projected to go in the mid-20s.

Weaknesses

Beasley burst onto the scene in his freshman season at FSU, but could have benefitted from another year in college. The key areas of weakness in his offensive game are playmaking and ballhandling. He averaged just over one assist per game last season.

The 19-year-old also didn’t handle the ball as much as he will likely need to at the NBA level. He attacks with mostly right-hand dribbles in a straight line and lacks a reliable crossover or really any 1-on-1 moves. Thus, his current NBA value is as a floor spacer in the corner rather than a dynamic scorer. He does have the shooting skills to be multi-dimensional, he’ll just struggle to get to his spots to get those shots up against better defenders.

Defensively Beasley hunts for steals, often leaving his man with a wide-open driving lane. His average size and length will hamper his ability to play post defense and disrupt long-range shots. Beasley also tends to get lost on screens as he did here against Virginia Tech:

At just 19-years-old, many of these mistakes can be coached out of him and he may even grow a little more on that end of the floor. But expect a bumpy transition in year one.

Potential fit in Denver – In many ways Beasley is redundant with Gary Harris, as both are undersized shooting guards. The Nuggets likely want Harris’ backup to be a stout wing defender with length, which Beasley won’t provide. However, his efficient shooting would certainly help space the floor in Denver and Beasley’s also the type of run-and-gun athlete that historically has thrived in the Mile High City. He’s worth a look with the 19th-pick that the Nuggets own, or if they trade down in the draft.

Current projection – Beasley is expected to be picked toward the end of the first round, somewhere in the 20s. Beasley told Draft Express that it’s more important to be drafted on the right team than to be drafted high and he says has ambitions to play in the NBA for a decade or more, the kind of attitude that will be attractive to teams looking for a potential gem outside of the lottery.

Just a freshman, Beasley is an intriguing prospect who would provide great value at the end of the first round. Credit: Rob Foldy, Getty
Just a freshman, Beasley is an intriguing prospect who would provide great value at the end of the first round.
Credit: Rob Foldy, Getty

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Dan Fatigato

Dan Fatigato grew up outside of Chicago in the midst of the Bulls championship runs. He moved to Austin, TX, in 2000 before attending CU-Boulder from 2003-07, where he fell in love with the Nuggets. At CU he served as the Sports Editor for the Campus Press and freelanced for the Boulder Daily Camera sports section. After seven years in the enterprise software industry, Fatigato has gone back to his sportswriting roots. Follow his NBA blog at www.downontheblock.co.