NBA Free Agency is quickly approaching, and for the New Orleans Pelicans, this go around will be all about bolstering their team around their nucleus of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and Trey Murphy III.
One player who could be available in this free agency is the Los Angeles Lakers guard Malik Beasley. Beasley does have a club option for 2023-24, but given that he’s expected to make around 16.5 million next season, it seems unlikely that the team will bring him back.
With that in mind, should the Pelicans think about pursuing Beasley this offseason?
Beasley does address one glaring weakness on the team: outside shooting. New Orleans was 23rd in 3-point makes and 29th in 3-point attempts last season. Also, the Pelicans only had four players on their roster in 2022-23 who placed in the 50th percentile or higher in wide-open 3-point percentage (per thinkingbasketball.net).
Beasley is a career 37.8% 3-point shooter on 5.8 attempts per game. And as for wide-open 3-point percentage, he’s converted on 42% of those types of shots over the last three seasons (74th percentile).
If that wasn’t enough, Beasley saw to it personally that the Pelicans knew he could shoot. On March 14 in New Orleans, Beasley hit 7 of his 12 triples en route to 24 points and a 123-108 victory over the Pelicans.
The drawback with Beasley is that he’s not a very reliable defender (19th percentile in Defensive Estimated Plus-Minus). And when his shots not falling (he can be a bit streaky), he doesn’t provide much impact elsewhere. For instance, he’s only in the 7th percentile in rim attempts per 75 possessions (per Dunks & Threes). That’s why he only appeared in eleven of the Lakers’ 16 playoff games this postseason, averaging just 8.3 minutes per game during those contests.
The good news with that, though, at least as it pertains to the Pelicans, is that his value has tanked to a degree. So much so that he may be willing to sign with a contending team (like our Pelicans are on paper) for the taxpayer’s mid-level exception of about 7.2 million dollars, which is likely the best the Pelicans can offer him.
All things considered, the Pelicans should pursue Beasley as long as they have the right expectations for him (much like we discussed with Seth Curry). They should count on him to be able to bolster their shooting/spacing. But they can’t expect that he’s logging a ton of playoff minutes in every series because of his defensive limitations.