LOS ANGELES — In the last eight days alone, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said it’s hard to overstate the impact that Patrick Beverley had on the franchise. And Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers said while Beverley may not be the quintessential point guard, his high basketball IQ allows him to be the primary decision-maker as he impacts winning.
The Chicago Bulls are 9-5 since Beverley’s arrival. How much credit does he think he deserves for what appears to be a tougher, more resilient team mindset?
“This was a really good defensive team before I got here. Obviously, I was able to put my little swag on certain situations. But this team was already kind of put together,” Beverley said following Saturday’s practice at USC. “The addition with me, my mindset, my preparation for games, helps the young guys and the team. You add that to what they already have and it’s a pretty solid team.”
But what about the fact that Beverley has appeared in the playoffs in eight of his 10 NBA seasons? Obviously, he has played with elite talent. But what does his contributions and leaguewide reputation as a player you love to have on your team but hate to play against say about his impact on winning?
“I’m all about the right things. I don’t cheat the game. I don’t put anything before basketball,” Beverley said. “I don’t prioritize anything before basketball, as crazy as that sounds. A lot of people prioritize family. Fortunately, my family has given me a lot of confidence and a lot of room to keep basketball first. With that kind of attitude, things always end up going well for me.”
Beverley spoke on the eve of the Bulls facing the Los Angeles Lakers twice in four days. Beverley started 45 games for the Lakers this season before they traded him to the Orlando Magic in a four-team deal on the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
The Lakers struggled most of this season but currently sit in eighth place, playing well even with LeBron James sidelined with a foot injury.
“It’s going to be fun as hell,” Beverley said of facing the Lakers. “Obviously, you got good relationships with guys. You’ve been through a little adversity with guys in my short period of time here. I’m just going to get lost in the game of basketball and compete at a high level.”
Asked why he thinks he’s thriving with the Bulls after failing to make as much of an impact with the Lakers, Beverley didn’t hesitate.
“Obviously, you’ve got guys who have the ball in their hands a ton. LeBron James. Russell Westbrook. Anthony Davis. Dennis Schroder. (Austin) Reaves. My role was kind of a 3-and-D guy. And I feel like I’ve always been more than that in my career,” Beverley said. “And I’m able to do the same things here but with the ball in my hands. I got a good coach, a good system, an easy system.
“It’s the players around me—DeMar (DeRozan), Zach (LaVine), Vooch (Nikola Vucevic), Cob (Coby White). These guys can really hoop. It’s making it easier for me. I’m not really doing a lot. I’m not getting 12 assists a game. I’m just out there playing basketball, having fun, getting lost in the game. It’s been real joyful.”
That’s why Beverley doesn’t sweat whether he gets any credit or not, or even enough credit from people other than coaches for whom he played. He credited Rivers for helping him by being “hard as hell on me” every day.
“I made close to $100 million in this league. If that ain’t saying enough right there, I don’t need much validation,” Beverley said, smiling. “It’s just the nature of the game. Most people look at me as a defender. No matter what I do offensively, it’s just extra. Defender will always be my title no matter how many dimes I throw or what I shoot percentage-wise from the 3-point line. It will always stick with me, which is good. Surprise attack.”