There are few things in this world that I enjoy more than a basketball player slapping the court. It’s not something that you see in the NBA very much, as it’s more common in college and weirdly more common at certain universities (notably Michigan State and Duke).
I just love when players get super pumped up and are clapping their hands and trying to get themselves and the team and everyone in the building as fired up as possible.
If you’d have asked me this season who on the Utah Jazz might slap the court, my answer would have been Collin Sexton 10 times out of 10.
He is incredibly energetic, claps a lot when he’s really into the game, gets down in a low defensive stance and just seems like the most likely candidate.
But, on Thursday night against the Washington Wizards, Malik Beasley slapped the hardwood.
“I don’t know why I did that,” Beasley said after the game. “Just wanted to show some passion. Lowkey wanted the foul.”
Beasley had just scored in transition off his fourth steal of the night. Generally a player with slap the court or clap in an opposing player’s face at the start of a defensive possession to amp themselves up to get a stop, but I’m fine with it happening after a transition bucket, especially considering Beasley racked up a whole slew of stops for himself.
Beasley has said multiple times this season that he wants to accept a larger role. He wants to be more than just a 3-point shooter and he wants Jazz head coach Will Hardy to challenge him, just as Beasley challenges himself.
In order to prove that he’s more than just a 3-point shooter it requires Beasley to apply himself aggressively on the defensive end and to be more assertive with the ball in his hands.
On Thursday, he did all of that. He was 3 of 7 from 3-point range, but was also 6 of 10 from inside the arc.
“Just attacking the hole and not settling for 3,” he said after the Jazz’s 120-112 win over the Wizards. “That was the main difference. Keep doing that and allow the defense to play honest.”
Beasley knows that he needs to be a part of the Jazz’s constant motion and put pressure on the rim. In doing that, it’ll benefit not only him, but the rest of the team as well.
He finished Thursday with a team-high 25 points in 25 minutes off the bench.
On the defensive side, I mentioned the four steals, but it’s worth digging into those a little more. Here are all four of them:
Sometimes steals come as the result of sloppy basketball. A player can be credited with a steal just because they come up with a ball that was dribbled off someone’s foot, but all of Beasley’s steals were a result of great defense and him playing passing lanes like an absolute boss.
“Malik did a great job of recognizing the times to fan back out to the shooters and then ended up getting him a couple of steals,” Hardy said.
“It’s something that we work on a lot and talk about a lot. Those decisions in pick-and-roll defense can be hard to make… and I thought Malik tonight did a great job of getting in those passing lanes.”
Beasley is a very confident player and believes that he is deserving of a starting spot. That doesn’t mean that he’s angry about his bench spot (he said as much on Thursday). He’s happy to do whatever the team needs and he sees that he is on the court in closing minutes and has the trust of his coaches and teammates.
With that in mind though, Beasley can continue to prove that he deserves a starting role if he plays like he did on Thursday night.