Mr. 94 Feet: The Patrick Beverley Story

Patrick-BeverleyAfter sitting out seven recent games with a hamstring injury, Patrick Beverley – Houston’s first option at point guard this season – returned yesterday to lead the Rockets to a hard-fought 5 point win over the Phoenix Suns.

“We don’t win that game unless Pat plays,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said postgame. “He made some big 3s and got some huge offensive rebounds.”

Not unlike Russell Westbrook did nine days ago for Oklahoma City, Beverley showed impressive resilience to have an immediate game-winning impact upon his return from injury.

It’s unsurprising really, as the entire Patrick Beverley story is one of resilience.

The phrase ‘he comes from the wrong side of the tracks’ is somewhat of an understatement when talking about this pesky point guard.

The west side of Chicago, where Beverley grew up, is notoriously tough.  In fact, people of Chicago have often referred to Beverley’s High School, John Marshall Metropolitan, as a mini prison.

Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Beverley endured friends and family landing in prison on drug violations and losing others to the tragedy of urban gun violence. Trying to remain focused on his pro-hoops dream among his neighborhood’s culture of drugs and violence would have been a full time job in itself.

To his credit, however, that’s exactly what Beverley did, earning himself a scholarship to the University of Arkansas after his senior year.

As a Razorback, Beverley showed signs of future stardom throughout his Freshman and Sophomore years. In 2008, however, his dream of one day playing in the NBA took a major hit when he was expelled for cheating on his school work.

Tarred with the ‘trouble maker’ tag, Beverley decided not to declare for the NBA Draft in the hopes of landing a job overseas.

He waited for months, with his wavering levels of confidence beginning to take a toll, before finally signing with a second division team in Ukraine. Even though it seemed his career was moving backwards and he was tracking further and further away from his ultimate goal, Beverley remained focused.

Beverley made the most of his opportunity in Ukraine, averaging 17pts, 7reb, 4ast and 2stl on the season and earning himself a second round selection in the 2009 NBA Draft by the LA Lakers. Beverley had played great and had impressed NBA scouts despite the Ukrainian Second Division holding about as much prestige as my 2006 Honda.

The Lakers traded his rights to Miami the day after the draft but the Heat showed little interest, encouraging Beverley to pursue another contract overseas.

Once again Beverley headed back to Europe, however, this time with the NBA-draftee tag rather than that of a trouble maker. He landed with Greek powerhouse Olympiacos alongside current Sydney Kings superstar Josh Childress and former Toronto Raptor Linas Kleiza.   Beverley GreeceAlthough Beverley did not have an exceptional season individually, the team was somewhat successful making it to the finals of both the Greek League and the Euroleague.

In 2010 Miami recalled Beverley for training camp only to waive his rights before the season started.  Beverley was the last man cut – yet another setback along his arduous journey to the bright lights of the NBA.

This one, however, really rocked his confidence. In fact, Beverley has been quoted as saying that, at that point, he began to doubt his abilities and begun to consider the possibility that the NBA would never happen for him.

So what did Beverley do? That’s right, he went back to Europe! Here’s hoping he signed up for the frequent flyer program.

This time he landed in Russia, playing for Spartak St.Petersburg, where won the Eurocup MVP in 2012.

This performance captured the attention of Houston Rockets GM Darryl Morey who signed Beverley to a multi-year contract in January last year.

However, his journey was not yet over!

Houston assigned Beverley to their NBA D League Team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, before eventually recalling him to help cover for the numerous backcourt injuries that had hit them.

Beverley quickly made an impression on the Rockets franchise and NBA as a whole, but most particularly, on every opposing point guard he came up against.

His style of play, a mix of aggression and absolute determination, quickly earned him the backup PG spot behind Jeremy Lin and turned heads around the league.

“I think that some people call it a chip. Mine was more like a mountain,” Beverley told Bleacher Report earlier this year.

“I just had so much aggression and so much built up anger, especially because many other teams passed up on me. I just wanted to go out there and every single night just make it hard for the opponent to dribble the ball up the court—be fearless out there and do whatever it takes to try to put my team in a position to win basketball games.”

Beverley is now playing in his third year with Houston and, although never averaging more than 13 points and 3 assists per game, has managed to cement himself as the starting PG for a playoff-bound team.

“The mountain that I have on my shoulders helps me just to prove myself every single day I’m on the court,” Beverley explains.  “I’m happy that I have that trait because it helps me to play at the level that I am today.”

Much like the importance of Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors and their championship dreams, Beverley, although a little unorthodox in his ways, anchors the Rockets defensively.

Beverley has managed to find a comfortable role in Texas because of his seemingly perfect fit with his partner in crime in the Houston backcourt. For every Ying there needs to be some Yang and James “Ying” Harden alongside Patrick “Yang” Beverley work as the perfect odd couple; each player filling the gaps in the other’s game like a Toys‘R’Us jigsaw puzzle.

Harden, although making a concerted effort this season to be more engaged defensively, will simply never posses any great ability on the defensive end of the floor. That being said, he may well be one of the most unstoppable offensive weapons in the league. Beverley, on the other hand, gets his work done on defense; lifting the team’s energy with constant activity and hustle.

Due to injuries, Beverley has only managed to play in eight games thus far this season, averaging 13.4pts, 4.5reb and 2.3ast, however, in those eight games only one team has managed to crack the 100 point barrier and only two have scored over 95.

The Rockets have thus far held opponents to an average of 94.1 points per game, good enough for third in the league behind Memphis (93.8) and San Antonio (94.0) and, with more consistent contributions from Bev, that is likely to get even better.

With the addition of Trevor Ariza on the wing, a healthy(ish) Dwight Howard at center and Beverley leading the way at PG, the Rockets have built one hell of a defensive unit. The clear deficiency that Harden creates in the two spot has been somewhat negated by the Rockets’ new focus on shutting teams down.

During the 2012/13 playoffs against OKC, Beverley was criticized for his play on Russell Westbrook where he made a strong play at the ball when Westbrook was about to call a timeout. This, however, is his style of play; taking advantage of anything the opposing player gives him and not relenting until he has gained possession for his team. It’s that same pesky, annoying style that had DeMarcus Cousins suspended for punching Beverley in the guts last season.

If Steven Adams is now the starting center on the All-Antagonist team, Beverley is the captain and starting point guard.

Beverley grew up tough and he still carries much of his troubled youth around with him today.  He wasn’t afforded many opportunities along the way but refused to give in on his dream.

His resilience, focus and determination have helped him get this far and it’s those same attributes that make him such a great defender at the NBA level.

 

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