Houston Rockets: Patrick Beverley and his Quest for More
Patrick Beverley has done a good job given the role he has taken on in Houston, but has also been subject to some criticism in regards to his abilities as a starter in Houston. Goran Dragic was a player name that had been linked to the Houston Rockets, putting even more pressure on Beverley and the ideology that he is not a starting caliber guard.
With the Trade deadline coming and going, Beverley will keep his job for the duration of 2015 NBA season. Jeff Teague even went as far as allowing Beverley to catch up during the skills challenge as part of the NBA All-Star weekend. It would ultimately bite Teague in the rear, as it was Beverley who was crowned the skills challenge champion.
There lies a great deal of irony in the situation as it shares many parallels with Beverley’s career. Given the list of elite point guards participating it wouldn’t have been unrealistic to assume that Beverley was probably least likely to win. However, that wasn’t the case. His heart and determination carried him. Something the Chicago native has made a career out of.
Beverley came into his 3rd NBA season as a top defender in the NBA. His work ethic and defensive attributes put him near the top of the league amongst many analysts and players as an elite defender. His on-ball defense was widely revered as top 3 among active players. Things haven’t gone exactly as planned for the former 2nd round pick as he has struggled a little bit on both ends trying to find his 2015 identity with the Rockets.
Beverley made a name for himself on the defensive end, which is where his strengths lay. He and James Harden played against each other in High School, they have a history that helped in developing an understanding of each others game.
Beverley regards Harden as the best two guard in the NBA and he might be right. The two often scrap it out in practice and they credit each other for making them both better because of it. Beverley’s game is built on pressure. He has to get back to that, each and every night.
There have been nights where the pesky point guard hasn’t showcased the kind of stifling defense that earned him a reputation as one of the games’ best defenders. Their have also been question marks about a possibly injury, others have made reference to a possible slump.
Either way, Beverley needs to find himself once again and prove the doubters wrong. Let’s look at where his assets and liabilities currently reside, as P.B prepares to enter the second half of the NBA season. A time where the Rockets need him the most:
Lockdown Defenders are a Dying Breed
Pressure is the name of his game. That pressure is what enabled him to become a starting point guard in the NBA after bouncing around prior to joining the Rockets. The team needed a physical defensive spark and that is exactly what they got. After being cut from the Miami Heat, Beverley used it as motivation and fuel. He channeled all his anger and frustration, forcing opponents to feel his presence. That earned him a starting gig.
“I think that some people call it a chip. Mine was more like a mountain.” “I just had so much aggression and so much built up and so much anger, especially because many other teams passed up on me” -Beverley, 25, told Bleacher Report
Beverley’s job is to set the tone defensively. The Houston Rockets defense is much better when he is on the court. In a recent interview with Bleacher Report, Beverley talked about his defense in great detail. His lateral movement is a huge attribute, as he holds the wing span of a 6″7″ player, even though he stands at only 6’1″. Utilizing active hands to disrupt the players he is defending. Reading the eye movement of opposing players is another way he is able to assess what is transpiring on the court. Beverley also loves to force players into taking contested two’s. His belief is that those are the toughest shots to make, so that’s what he lures opponents into.
Beverley has gone on record to say he used Michael Jordan as a model for this, attempting to mirror MJ’s game on the defensive end. Conditioning, hard work, and effort are what ultimately gave him the tools to become regarded as arguably the league’ best on-ball defender. His tenacity and heart set him apart from other players.
Shooting Assets and Liabilities
Beverley should put some focus on improving in specific areas, to help give the team an offensive boost. Beverley is shooting inside the 3 point line, in and around the same percentage as he is converting from beyond he arc. This 2014/15 shooting chart highlights 14 areas where he has taken jump shots and the percentages he is converting from in each of the designated zones:
Patrick Beverley’s strongest shooting spots are located on the baseline (outside the 3 point line) and the area closest to the rim. It appears as if he shoots primarily from the spots where he is strongest. This includes 60% of his field goal attempts which come from the land beyond the arc. Currently shooting .386 from the field and .365 from downtown, Beverley needs to work on shooting the basketball more efficiently from inside the 3 point line. That is if he wants to get paid and be considered a two-way player.
He won’t be needed to score 20+ points a game with James Harden in the lineup, but the ten shots a game he does attempt, could be converted at a higher percentage. The team is currently 7th in the league at 103.7 points per game. Beverley could push them into the top 5 which would help his cause as a starter. He accounts for 10 points per game which is similar to last year, so he hasn’t grown in that regard. His free throw shooting isn’t horrible, but it certainly isn’t strong at .725. Beverley ranks near the back of the list in terms of starting point guard’s and free throw percentage.
Passing and Rebounding the Basketball
The team is currently 13th in team assists at 21.7. Beverley is currently registering 3.3 assists per game, slightly better than last season. P.B is 40th in the league in ball distribution and dead last amongst players averaging 30 minutes or more, in terms of assists per game. It’s hard given the fact that James Harden is the focal point of the offense, but certainly an area where the player handling the ball second most can improve.
He is the starting point guard and this should be his category to lead, or at the very least strive to hit 5 assists per game. It will come down to creativity with the ball and decision making. He is only averaging 1.4 TO a game, so when he does have the ball he is responsible with it. Given the low turnovers, the A/TO ratio would be much better than 2.36 if he registered more assists. One could wonder if it’s partly a confidence issue with the ball on offense. Does he believe in himself on the offensive end like he does on the defensive side of the ball?
The 4.5 rebounds per game is good. Houston is around middle of the pack in the rebounding department. Beverley’s aggressive defensive mentality translates into him being the 9th best rebounding point guard. This is something he does well and should continue to fight to do.
Moving forward & the Second Half
This former Marshall high school star has been branded a relentless worker, who also possesses a ton of heart and determination. He has fought and clawed his way through the ranks as a professional to get here and has taken some flak from critics. This should be Beverley’s driving force to get better. The Rockets don’t pay Beverley like a starter. In fact he makes less than most backups.
For a starting point guard of his skill set, at just over 1 million dollars this year, he might be the most underpaid player in basketball. That makes things interesting for the second half as Beverley has an opportunity to make Houston break bread next year when his contact expires. That certainly could be a motivating and driving force for the point guard. He is worth much more than he makes.
Beverley has a good opportunity here to make a name for himself, especially in Dwight’s absence. Players don’t always have to completely reinvent themselves to improve. Beverley may never be a great offensive threat and that’s OK. But he can work towards getting better, just like he did on defense. Scorers are a dime a dozen where as lock down defenders are a dying breed.
If his offensive skill set has plateaued, he needs to become the best defender in the league. His aspirations should include a defensive player of the year. Because the bottom line is he could absolutely do it.
Patrick Beverley, WE BELIEVE.
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