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Grading Patrick Beverley

Not many people knew who Patrick Beverley was before he collided with Russell Westbrook’s knee while attempting to steal the ball during Game 2 of the first round. It made him the center of attention and forced him beneath the brightest spotlight of his life. He was a role player who took out a star.

But, of course, Beverley is much more than that moment. His story began long before and will carry on long after. Here’s a quick recap of how his relationship with the Houston Rockets began, and where it currently stands.

After spending a few years playing professional basketball in Ukraine, Greece, and Russia, Beverley signed with the Rockets one week into 2013. His role was third-string point guard, an insurance policy for Jeremy Lin and Toney Douglas.

Eventually Beverley took Douglas’ minutes (allowing the team to include him in a deadline deal for Thomas Robinson), and soon after he found himself closing games on the court, with Lin on the bench. A combination of Beverley’s ability to space the floor on offense and stay in front of quick ball-handlers on defense afforded him the time.

Beverley went from being a forgettable mid-season signing from Russia to starting five games in the playoffs (33.3 minutes, 11.8 points, and 5.5 rebounds per game) while standing as a key figure in the team’s small ball strategy.

That’s where we are. Here’s who he is: Pesky, frisky, a mosquito who does way more than put an itchy bump on your skin. Beverley plays with the same intensity regardless of where he/the ball is on the court. On his Twitter profile, he aptly refers to himself as “Mr. 94 Feet,” for obvious reasons.

He’s also an unknown commodity, as has previously been mentioned. Beverley’s last name is misspelled over several websites that aren’t in the business of misspelling the names of NBA players, including NBA.com’s new statistical database and Synergy Sports. (There’s no “e” between the “l” and “y” at the end of his last name.)

Beyond his name, what else is unknown is his immediate future with the Rockets. Not much useful lineup data can be gathered from his play with the team’s other fixtures (James Harden, Omer Asik, and Chandler Parsons) due to the small sample sizes, but I’ll be giving them to you anyway.

In just 156 regular season minutes beside Asik and Harden (the team’s two most important players), the Rockets scored 109.6 points per 100 possessions while allowing only 96.8. They outscored opponents by 1.28 points per possession and grabbed 36.4% of their own missed shots.

(When you throw Chandler Parsons into the mix, those four man units outscored opponents by 12 points per 100 possessions in only 70 total minutes played.)

That offensive rebounding rate is phenomenal, about a dozen percentage points higher than Houston’s season average. For reference, the Denver Nuggets led the league with an offensive rebounding rate of 31.4%, according to NBA.com/Stats.

Let’s talk some more about offensive rebounding because Beverley is really good at it. The average offensive rebounding rate among all point guards in the NBA last season was 2.1%. It’s so low for two reasons: 1) point guards are small, and 2) when a teammate shoots the ball, it’s the guard’s responsibility to retreat as a safety net and prevent any easy transition opportunities.

According to Hoopdata.com, Beverley’s offensive rebounding rate was 7.1%. It sounds high because it is, and Beverley was first among all point guards. Generally speaking it’s both good and bad to have your point guard bum rush the rim whenever a shot soars towards his own basket. Good because the potential for second chance points is theoretically increased now that the ball is in the hands of a player possessing high IQ player and an ability to pass—wide open three-pointers galore over here.

But should he or his team fail to corral the ball, they’re susceptible to an easy basket the other way. With Beverley on the floor this season the Rockets actually allowed fewer fast break points than their average, which is a little strange. Will that number negatively shift over the course of an entire season? Maybe. But all we can go from is the numbers we have.

Moving on, Beverley is fearless with the ball in his hands, but much like his “attack the glass” mentality in rebounding situations, it’s not necessarily a good thing all the time. Luckily he can get his own shot when need be, featuring a step back jumper that’s too quick for any defender’s reflexes, and a spin move (he might rely too much on) he often breaks out in the lane.

Once he penetrates past the opponent’s first level of defense, Beverley has difficulty reading the floor and making the correct play. When he gets too deep below the foul line the ratio of him finding a three-point shooter to launching a wild, contested floater isn’t favorable. That’ll need to improve if he wants to start next season.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, is starting over Jeremy Lin a realistic option? Of course it is. Beverley is a superior defender, rebounder, and shooter from distance. He doesn’t crumble under pressure and plays the game with evident confidence.

He is the best point guard on Houston’s current roster, and that’s nothing to be sad or disappointed about. Beverley isn’t “building block” good, but pieces like that (especially ones being paid less than $2 million combined over the next two seasons) are valuable. He’s a role player who maximizes his production within Houston’s demands. He’s a diamond in the rough.

Grade: B+

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