The picture of Patrick Beverley currently serving as the main image for his Wikipedia page looks almost nothing like the player who currently starts at point guard for the Houston Rockets. While the red-and-white of the Spartak Saint Petersburg shooting shirt he’s wearing echoes the same color scheme he wears now, the uniform is decidedly not NBA standard issue, nor is Beverley sporting his trademark shaggy locks.
Taken in 2011, the photograph represents a completely different version of Beverley, one who, at the time, wasn’t sure he would ever play in the NBA.
“It was the ultimate grind, the ultimate sacrifice,” Beverley told Basketball Insiders about his first four years as a professional in Ukraine, Greece and Russia. “You’re put in a foreign country where you don’t know anybody or any of the languages, so it’s tough. My mom went with me to Ukraine my first year, but it wasn’t easy.”
After seeing some success his first season playing for BC Dnipro Dnopropetrovsk of the Ukraine’s SuperLeague, Beverley was given something of a break by moving up in the world of international basketball by joining the considerably more well-known and well-regarded Olympiacos BC of Greece that also rostered Josh Childress and Linas Kleiza that year. Even that, he says, didn’t come easy for him.
“Greece was my biggest challenge,” he admitted. “My first year (in Ukraine) went really well, and I played really well, but Greece was extremely humbling. I played for a good Euroleague team that year, so I didn’t play a lot. Honestly, I didn’t play at all, and that’s humbling for a young player. So I had to learn how to play basketball the correct way.”
According to Beverley, that meant adjusting to the European way of playing basketball.
“Overseas is more team play, more high-IQ play, just team concepts instead of individual concepts,” Beverley said. “I learned a lot about making the extra pass, dribbling baseline, knowing where my man is going to be. All those things helped me to play for a team like the Houston Rockets, who do a lot of similar things to those European teams.”
Eventually, his hard work and grit earned him an opportunity with the Miami HEAT, who in 2012 brought him aboard for Summer League and the preseason before cutting him just a little ahead of the season. That was when he ended up in Russia and all but gave up on ever really playing in the NBA.
“I signed with Miami after Greece, played Summer League for them, and got cut right before the season,” Beverley said, “But I feel like I was kind of off the NBA for a while anyway. At that point, I really was thinking in terms of getting my career started in Europe, and I really wasn’t focused on the NBA so much. When the NBA finally came calling and I got my first real shot, I knew what a blessing it was.”
It was January of 2013, three-and-a-half years after getting drafted and almost five years since having played his last game at the University of Arkansas, when he finally was picked up by the Rockets midseason. By that point, he said, he was happy to be in the league but hadn’t even really been striving for an opportunity at that point. In a way, he thinks, that nonchalance helped him.
“As soon as I stopped caring about what NBA scouts thought, I was able to just play basketball,” he said. “The minute I stopped caring, that was when the NBA came calling.”
Much older than the typical rookie, Beverley brought some things to the table that other first-players simply could not.
“I think I had a little more maturity and experience than most rookies, but I had to get used to the speed the of the NBA game,” he said. “In Europe every possession is valued, but it’s not like that in the NBA. Here, if a guy is hot sometimes he’ll come up the court, take one dribble and pull up. You really didn’t see that overseas, so that was something I had to get used to.
“Other than that. I found myself in a good situation right away. Coach [Kevin] McHale took a chance on me, and I’m still here.”
Not every player breaks right into the NBA, and for those that take the long way in, there definitely can be some frustrating challenges along the way. Beverley is a great example of how a hard-working person can earn a shot by taking advantage of opportunities and landing in the right place at the right time.
“It was hard work matched with perfect timing and finding the right team,” Beverley said. “I thank God all the time for putting me where I am.”
While the Rockets have struggled this season, Beverley, who was signed to a new four-year contract this past summer, has done what he was paid to do. It just took him a little longer than most to get himself to that paycheck.
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