Patrick Beverley and the Houston Rockets: Unloved, Unfazed


Written by Kyle Picknell (@kylepicknell) on 09 August 2016   

Often, I find myself imagining what it is like to be certain basketball players.

This morning, whilst lounging around and doing nothing in particular I imagined what it would be like to be Andrea Bargnani playing a game 7 for the New York Knicks. After that, whilst eating breakfast, I imagined what it would be like to be Josh Smith, and then what is was like to be Josh Smith and eat breakfast.

One of the more interesting ones has been imagining what it's like to be Patrick Beverley.

No, honestly.

You are a starting NBA point guard. The starting point guard of a team that finished as the 2nd seed and Western Conference Finalists just over a year ago. You shoot 40% from 3, play the most irritating defense in the league and you're on an extremely valuable contract that works out at just under $5.5 million a year. 

You are rarely mentioned in the media. Enes Kanter's facial hair gets more attention than you. 

Originally, you were a late, late, 2nd round pick and spent the first four years of your career adapting to life in Ukraine, Greece and then Russia before returning to the NBA with the Houston Rockets and proving yourself as an invaluable role player for a contender. 

Yet, despite all this, you exist in relative anonymity, underrated and often ignored. You have to regularly guard the league's best players, often on a night-to-night basis, the likes of Steph Curry, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook.

You even have to go toe to toe with the highest paid player in the NBA, Mike Conley. He averages 5 more points a game, a couple more assists, the same number of steals and less rebounds. By 2018, he will be earning six times as much as you.

Your no-frills defensive schematic consists of perpetually harassing these exquisite ball-handlers and facilitators and generally making their life as difficult as possible. You hide their car keys. You delete their alarms AND their back-up alarms 20 minutes later from their iPhones. They are superior players and you know it. You do the only thing you can do, you work harder. A lot harder. You run through screen after moving screen and jump on every single loose ball as though it was your child falling into a bear pit.

As a result, you are sneered at by opposing fans, who want to see their superstars glide around the court, effortlessly threading bounce passes and swishing deep 3s. After one hard-fought win against the Portland Trailblazers, you drew the ire of Damian Lillard, who complained about your chest bumping and jersey tugging, asserting that 'that's not basketball'.

You are widely blamed for injuring Russell Westbrook and derailing OKC's best shot at a title in 2013. Now Durant has left, that might be the best shot they'll ever have. You were just doing your job, swooping in for a steal. Once again, you are the villain.

You never see any Patrick Beverley jerseys in the audience.

Last season, the Rockets traded for Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, who was expected to replace you in the starting line-up. He didn't. He was a disaster. They thought it was because he couldn't play with James Harden. That you were a much better 'fit'. Harden runs the offense, attacks the basket, conducts the pick and roll, whilst you spot-up and hit your 3s on the kick out. 40% of them to be exact.

Your GM, Daryl Morey, addressed what he considered a position of need with the Lawson trade. As that literally couldn't have gone any worse, I'm guessing he is still in the market for another point guard. He always is. The Rockets are James Harden and a rotating cast of extras decided by their contracts and 3 point percentage (hint: that's why you're on this team).

Eric Gordon was signed this summer for $13 million a year. That's starter money. He could well take your place as Harden's backcourt partner come the start of the season, should new coach Mike D'Antoni double down on the overlap between their skill-sets. After his reign with the SSOL Suns and debacle in Los Angeles, it wouldn't surprise me to see D'Antoni pair a volume scoring, defensively weak shooting guard with a volume scoring, defensively weak shooting guard in the backcourt.

So how does this make you feel Patrick Beverley, supporting actor in Captain Phillips, 2015 All-Star Skills Challenge Champion, pesterer of point guards and trash-talking destroyer of a young girl's hopes, dreams, wishes, aspirations and pull-up jumpers?

Undervalued, unappreciated, criticized, villainized?

This is how Patrick Beverley always feels, and he wouldn't have it any other way.


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