Life comes at you fast. Just three years ago Denver Nuggets guard Malik Beasley was averaging 22.9 points and 6.9 rebounds as a senior in high school at St. Francis in Alpharetta, Georgia. Fast forward a few years and he has a slightly increased role with the Nuggets, in compared to his rookie season.
Last season, Beasley played in 22 games for the Nuggets, and spent a majority of his time either in the G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, or just spending most nights learning and observing the game he loves from the bench. From then to his sophomore campaign, his role has lightly increased as he’s played in 31 of the team’s 36 games.
“It feels good, man,” said Beasley to CLNS. “It feels good that the hard work is paying off. Last year was tough for me going back up and down. My main thing was just staying focus and controlling what I can control.”
Beasley was assigned to the G League six times last season. Typically, when a rookie is sometimes sent to the league’s developmental league, it’s viewed as a demotion. For him, he saw it as an opportunity to grow and develop as a player. There, he was a key cog on the team averaging 18.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per game.
“My main thing was I learned how to control what I can control,” said Beasley. “To keep working through adversity and God has a plan and anything’s possible.”
The G League was just part of his story to improve as a player, and how he controlled that role was in his hands. Just how he was able to control his fate and declare for the draft in a unique way so he remembers where he’s come from and where he wants to go.
For almost two years, the 21-year-old has had his official declaration for the 2016 NBA Draft as his pinned tweet on his Twitter page. Fans of Beasley should familiarize themselves with the tweet, as he’ll have it there until he accomplishes his next goal.
“I just have it pinned because that’s where it’s all gon’ start,” said Beasley. “Just getting drafted, that was the first dream. Now, when I get a championship, that’s going to be my next pin.”
Becoming an NBA Champion is an arduous task because so many things have to go right. Such as health, and he’s currently out of action due to an elbow injury. To reach the peak of the NBA, Beasley would need great health and to continue his development as a player to become a key member of a contender.
The young man nicknamed, “The Mutant,” has lofty goals for what he wants to accomplish when his career comes to an end.
“I wanna be known for what I did and who I am,” said Beasley. “I wanna be an All-Star, I wanna do everything man, I wanna be the best player to play.”
Beasley, who was a one-and-done player at Florida State University, has a toss-up point of view on the one year removed from high school graduation rule. As the league considers removing it and allowing high school seniors to enter the league once again.
“Well it all depends,” said Beasley. “I feel like if they ready, they should go. There are guys out there that don’t have anything. No mom or dad and that’s why they grind. You can always get a degree, like for me I take classes online still so I can still get my degree. It’s all a matter of situations and giving them an opportunity. If they’re not ready, they’re not ready.”
Situations do play a role in players declaring for the draft. Some need the money more than others to help their families, while others can stay in the college ranks and develop their game to become the highest possible pick.
For Beasley, despite his father having played professional basketball in three countries, he felt he was ready for the NBA. With him forgoing his three years of eligibility, he still felt an obligation to accomplish something started: earning his degree.
Education is an important fixture to Beasley and his parents, Michael and Deena Beasley. Especially, with him being in the NBA and having to deal with millions of dollars in his early 20’s. To him, it comes down to money management.
“I’m in business finance,” said Beasley. “So, just learning what to do with my money. Basketball doesn’t last that long – knock on wood – so, I just want to learn.”
Beasley currently takes online classes with FSU, and finds the time when possible to complete the necessary assignments and courses, after struggling last season with the balance of NBA rookie and college student.
“Last year I tried it and I had to stop the next semester because it was too hard,” said Beasley. “This year, now that I know the season and how it goes, I just do it on the road. Also, at home when I’m just chillen – we have a lot of than what most people think. It is tough, definitely.”
Learning the nuances of how to deal with your own money yourself, instead of depending on others is why Beasley wants to continue his learning process. Why become complacent, just because you made it to the NBA? He sees being in the league as an added opportunity to impact his posterity as he now has the newest label and difficulty of living life as young, black and rich male in today’s world.
“It’s tough man,” said Beasley. “People just see us always trying to spend or do whatever. I don’t have kids yet, and I’m trying to save up for my future kids. My family, just support them. It’s tough as it is, but it is what it is in society. I don’t look at people differently, they don’t look at me differently. I don’t act like I have millions of dollars.”
In fact, Beasley acts like a regular person, even though public perception sometimes misconstrues the image of the rich. Like most teenagers and people in their twenties, he likes to play Call of Duty, mainly at night with his teammates as they have their own team online. A fixture of team bonding and just relaxing. Getting away from the NBA world and responsibilities of life temporarily.