Right now, Nuggets shooting guard Malik Beasley is having the time of his life while trying to make the most of his increased playing time.
“It’s amazing,” Beasley said. “Stretching before games, now I know I’m playing. Starting to learn a lot more.”
Beasley continues to impress in his time on the court while Juancho Hernangomez is out due to illness. The second-year guard out of Florida State played a season-high 25 minutes in the Nuggets’ loss to Golden State on Saturday. And while he didn’t shoot the ball as well as he’d have liked – 1-for-6 overall – Beasley impacted the game with his rebounding and playmaking with seven rebounds and three assists.
One of the dimes was an alley-oop pass to a high-flying Kenneth Faried who threw down a thunderous dunk, bringing the Pepsi Center crowd to its feet.
“His activity and energy level were off the charts,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I thought Malik was terrific. He had a great play to Kenneth in transition. He was aggressive, looking to drive the ball. He was doing a real good job on defense.”
Beasley knows mastering the intangibles will keep him on the court.
“Shooting is tough right now because I’m not making shots or I’m not getting shots,” Beasley said. “I’m okay with that. My main role is to defend, hit open shots and cut. … It’s not all about scoring, just doing the right thing, make sure my teammates have a good rhythm. I don’t want to come in there and mess anything up. I want to continue the rhythm and continue the chemistry that we all have.”
He’s doing just that.
“It feels great to get out there and play significant minutes, especially in big games,” Beasley said. “Just being a fire engine for the team, for that second unit.”
Free throw concerns: Nuggets coach Michael Malone listed three areas that his team needs to improve in order to win more consistently – 3-point defense, not allowing so many points off of turnovers.
And free throws.
The Nuggets are 28th in the NBA in free throw percentage, hitting just 71.8 percent of their tries.
“We’re an awful free throw shooting team,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We can’t be 28th in free throw percentage and expect to win a lot of close games.”
What can the Nuggets do about it? Just get the reps up in practice and hope it translates, Malone said.
“You can’t simulate game situations,” he said. “We get a lot of reps individually after practice, before practice. But it’s a matter of a guy stepping up to the foul line…just finding your routine, getting your rhythm and having the mental toughness to make them.”
Nuggets in national media spotlight: It won’t be long before a couple of national heavyweights write lengthy pieces on the Nuggets. ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Sports Illustrated are both in town, working on pieces about the team, which will be out over the course of the next couple of weeks. Additionally, Nuggets guard Gary Harris is expected to be a guest on Lowe’s wildly popular podcast, The Lowe Post.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.