Patrick Beverley is most known for his pestering full-court defense. His ability to terrorize opposing guards and force turnovers is paralleled only by Avery Bradley, Tony Allen, and Thabo Sefolosha.
But can he improve his offensive game?
Patrick Beverley averaged 10.2 points and 3.5 assists per game last season, but James Harden’s high usage rate (9th in the NBA) often left both Beverley and Jeremy Lin with few opportunities to score.
His offensive game is not refined, but there are some things worth noting when analyzing how Beverley does score: His shot chart reveals some interesting anomalies. From the right wing three, he shoots a stellar 42.6 percent. Yet, from the left wing area, he falls to a paltry 31.2 percent.
Then, from the corner, the sides of the court are simply reversed; with Bev shooting 42.37 from the left corner, but just 27.8 percent from the right.
From the top of the key area, he is wildly inefficient, hitting just 27.7 percent.
He also is not a good shooter when it comes to long two-point attempts. Outside of the paint, and inside of the arc, Bev shot just 19-of-58, 32 percent. Even at the rim, Bev made just 52 percent. Overall, it runs to a 41.4 percent field goal percentage and 36.1 percent from behind the arc.
The fact is, Beverley needs to become more comfortable offensively. There is no reason his three point percentage should be so disparate from left to right. He also draws very few fouls, attempting just 2.1 free throws per-36 minutes. Beverley does a good job of keeping his turnovers down, but he doesn’t get many assists. His assist:turnover ratio if 2.2:1 is not very good, as 3:1 is typically the mark of a good NBA point.
What may be most concerning, however, is the possibility that Beverley may not improve. His percentages this season were both slightly lower than his rookie season, and he got a late start in the NBA. Beverley is now 26 years of age, typically the beginning of a player’s prime years.
Yet, he lingers behind offensively, and without more opportunities offensively, he’s not going to progress. With Harden’s statement about the entire team being his subservient serfs (Okay, I’m embellishing a little), it stands to reason that Bev continues to be ignored offensively.
The majority of Beverley’s turnovers came from bad passes. He often rushes things offensively, and sometimes his passes are a bit telegraphic. That is the mark of someone not having had enough time to develop comfort levels with his teammates and with the team’s offense. But in Bev’s case, he’s had the time, just not the opportunities.
The Rockets were a better team with Beverley on the court, though, so something was done right.
It could be that his backup, Jeremy Lin, had an abysmal assist:turnover ratio of 2/3. The Rockets were +8.7 per 100 possessions with Beverley on the court, and just +6.8 without him.
One difference this season for Beverley was his time spent playing the off-guard position. Basketball-reference indicates that he spent 35 percent of his playing time at shooting guard. If that is to continue, or even increase, he is going to have to have to increase his comfort as a scoring option.
In the playoffs, Bev had a tough responsibility: Damian Lillard. Accordingly, his offense became even more ineffective with so much of his energy spent trying to contain the 2013 Rookie of the Year. Beverley shot just 38 percent against the Trail Blazers, and was just 31.8 percent from behind the arc. Moreover, Lillard was not exactly contained. He scored 25 points or more in four of the six games, and had 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the Blazers’ game one win.
Lillard hit the series-clinching three-pointer. Beverley can be counted on for a lot of defense, but there is no defense for truly great defense (according to Charles Barkley even). If a guy is in the zone, it won’t matter how hard Bev or any other guard pesters him.
Perhaps that is the biggest downfall of defenders—their defense doesn’t work against everyone. Beverley gave Stephen Curry fits last year, but Lillard was too physical and quick, even for Beverley. And if he’s not able to stop the opposing point guard, while also being a liability offensively, it’s time for a change. The Rockets weren’t going to upgrade its point guard situation this summer, and did well by drafting Nick Johnson, who may eventually be the combo guard to relieve Beverley at times.
The Rockets are a team driven by James Harden. No. 13 will continue to take his shots, and Rockets fans will live with it. For every Harden take to the hole, there is at least two fade away contested threes, and maybe Beverley and his Rockets teammates began to lose hope. Watching Harden jack jumpers so relentlessly, or attack the basket with his head down, made them all slump their collective shoulders.
Beverley scored in double figures in 28 of his 56 appearances last season. That number really should be over 40. The Rockets would be a far more dangerous team if Beverley was capable of making opposing points work hard defensively. He shoots just well enough to keep defenses honest, but not well enough to make them pay dearly for leaving him open. He’s not a great playmaker, either, and while Harden is adequate for the role, his selfishness renders him a poor option at times, too.
It will be interesting to see if Bev can culture some offense in his game. Avery Bradley ultimately got an $8 million per season contract for his defensive abilities, but Bradley also made strides on the offensive end, averaging over 14 points per game last season.
That’s not a colossal stretch from what Bev is doing now, so reaching that plateau should be something he strives for in hopes of landing a similar payday. Beverley’s defense has never been in question, but he needs to bring more of the qualities of an offensively aggressive point guard, and maybe even get in James Harden’s face and demand the ball. Someone will do it this season.