It's one of those "good problems" - a couple guys get injured, a rookie comes off the bench and tears it up on the court. When everyone's healthy, do you start him, or not?
That's the question the Heat are probably tired of answering about Michael Beasley, after he stepped in for Udonis Haslem and looked every inch the second pick in the draft.
With a 24-point average over the last five games, Beasley's certainly made a case for minutes no one can ignore -- and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says he plans to give them as the Heat move into the postseason. But fans want more.
They want a start.
It's a rare situation in which putting the most productive player in a position on the floor off the bat might not be the best way to go. Rare or not, the Heat shouldn't start Beasley. It could cost too much at a critical time.
The Heat don't have much season left, and they'll need to be firing on all pistons if they want a shot at getting further than expected in the playoffs. They can do that with Beasley coming off the bench. The first unit has Dwyane Wade; the second unit needs Beasley - who else is capable of sparking the Heat when Wade's resting?
Only the Heat Dancers on their skimpiest day, and they're worse than Beasley on defense with a lot less upside.
And then there's the possibility of foul trouble. [Shudder!] The rookie is much improved on defense, but he's not there yet -- and too much time early could wind up taking him out of the equation offensively. And then what's the point?
If Beasley's getting plenty of minutes, a start is just an early accomplishment in a career expected to be full of them. There's plenty of time for that next year, when the Heat can give him the opportunity in the regular season and let him splash about without his swimmies on. Taking it from someone else who's spent a whole season doing the hard work in practice that Beasley is reportedly still "learning" to do could upset the apple cart -- and a hungry, eager rookie is a far better thing for team chemistry than “veteran” leadership sent down late in the season.
Who starts and who doesn’t isn’t really that big a deal, until you mess with it at a time when it doesn’t behoove a team to experiment. Spoelstra should, however, give the streaking Beasley as many minutes as possible.
And he will.
And it will be glorious.
Janie Campbell is a Florida sports fan who believes in the pro-set and ballpark hotdogs. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.