When the Houston Rockets made the deal this summer for Ty Lawson they were, by default, making a judgment on the merits of Patrick Beverly as a starting point guard on a championship level team. Beverley, a defensive annoyance with a tough as nails grit and resolve on par with Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies, will never wow anyone with his ability to get teammates the ball or his own ball in the hole dominance. He is not a playmaker nor is he a score first, score second, score third point guard. He takes and makes open shots, drives when necessary and defers on the offensive end to the dynamic stars on his team.
He is not Ty Lawson.
Lawson may be undersized but he is skilled at the point guard position. He drives to the rim, sets ups teammates and since he’s been in the league he’s dished out 2700 assists. It’s not Chris Paul level- Paul amassed 3500 assists in his first five seasons- but it puts Lawson in the very good, if not great, playmaker category.
Lawson has a hundred fewer career assists than Steph Curry; both have played in 416 regular season games.
The Nuggets, with Lawson running the show last season, scored because Lawson set teammates up 43% of the time. Patrick Beverly was responsible for 17% of the Rockets scores, an abysmal number which had a negative effect on the Rockets offensive efficiency because it put the ball in James Harden’s hands instead of, as Mike D’antoni would say, “pass and move”.
Conventional theory has Beverley as the backup, and the playmaker Lawson starting for the Rockets but Kevin McHale won’t go that far. He told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
“We’ll find out. Can we play them together? Maybe. We’ll put them out there. We had 28 days of camp. We’ll decide who will get the lion’s share of the minutes. One will and one will be the backup.”
Not to ground all of McHale’s subterfuge with economics but a $12 million dollar back-up makes zero sense. But I see where he’s going with this, he wants a competition which means both guards have to make an effort to do what is not in their nature. Beverly is a defensive bully while Lawson slices and dices and dishes and passes and makes plays for others while scoring a little himself.
Lawson seems the natural winner in this competition, that is if he can get his life on track. But Beverly has the edge in toughness.
Patrick Beverly was drafted by the Lakers and then traded to the Heat but he ditched South Beach and went to Europe, playing in Greece. He returned to the NBA via summer league for the Heat and they signed him to a deal but waived him when training camp ended. He then left for Russia. Two years later, the Rockets signed Beverley and sent him to the D-League. By the time they recalled him to join the team he was ready for his NBA career. He ended up replacing Jeremy Lin as the Rockets starting point guard and in July he signed a new four year deal.
Beverly’s NBA saga is the more common one, in the league, out the league, back in. Where he distinguishes himself is his capacity to keep the train moving despite the adversity which is why in a fight, if the judging is fair, Beverly will always have the mental advantage over his opponent.
photo via llananba