With the 2013-14 NBA season on the horizon, we’re taking this week to look at the players we love who are headed into their second year in the league. For most, if not all, of these players, expectations are either sky high or at rock bottom. And at the end of the year, what we know about them will likely be far removed from what we thought headed into this season.
Patrick Beverley holds the unique distinction of being one of the few sophomores in this class not drafted in 2012. A member of the 2009 draft class, Beverley, every bit the fiery Chicago point guard product he seems, bounced around between NBA training camps and Europe for a while, eventually signing with the Rockets this past January, averaging a stout 11.5 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per 36 in 41 contests with the team. Before his infamous involvement in Russell Westbrook’s knee injury in the first round, he won the starting point guard spot from an ailing Jeremy Lin, a position he’s been given a fair shot at by Kevin McHale entering pre-season play this fall. Regardless of whether or not he makes it, he looks to be the first guard off the bench for the suddenly terrifying Rockets, and while it might seem strange for me to suggest, I think he might be more well-suited to a bench role. Matched up either with star point guards after they’ve been softened up or with potentially mismatched backups, Beverley could be potentially devastating in short bursts. One of the more remarkable rebounding guards in the league, he posted an OREB% of 7.2 in the regular season last year (6.0% in 6 playoff games), which puts him right with the best seasons posted by the aforementioned Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, Eric Bledsoe and even Jason Kidd. It also utterly destroys the best Rajon Rondo, Jrue Holiday, Derrick Rose, Greivis Vasquez and Ricky Rubio, all of whom are taller, more athletic, or more well-known rebounders for their position.
It’s one of the players on that list, Eric Bledsoe, that I feel Beverley most resembles. Both are tiny combo guards who routinely show no hesitation in launching themselves for loose balls, despite the size disparity they’re likely to see there. Oddly, both players are switching their numbers to 2 from 12 this season. Defensively, Beverley’s not quite the same insanely good rebounder, but that’s hardly a problem. Rebounding guards are something of a luxury, albeit a welcome one. Luckily for us, Beverley’s also a burgeoning lockdown defender, and is already something of a ballhawk, as his solid 2.6% steal rate attests to. Perhaps more impressive was his 2.2% block rate as a 6 foot 1 point guard, an essentially unheard of number, rivaled only by, you guessed it, Eric Bledsoe. 41 games is too small a sample size to really make this sort of comparison, but it’s encouraging for PatBev’s future prospects. As they stand, Bledsoe is unquestionably the better athlete and all-around more intriguing prospect, but he’s also still pretty rough around the edges. At only 25 years old, Beverley is hardly a finished product himself, though. Regardless of where he ends up in the Rockets’ depth chart, he’s earned his way into this league and stands to make a fine living as a utility guard for as long as he feels he can play. Considering I’d all but given up on ever seeing him in the NBA after the flashes I saw at LVSL in 2010 that originally pulled me to his game, this is a fine consolation. I’m sure he wants more. He just might be able to get to the stars, no matter how tall they seem from here.