by Michael Clark, CantonCharge.com contributor
Managing a NBA Development League roster is no small task. The core of a roster and team composition can change in the blink of an eye. A shrewd move here and there can save a team’s season. An error in judgement can lead a team to take a wrong turn. Fortunately for the Charge, with NBA D-League Basketball Executive of the Year Mike Gansey at the helm, you never know what gem he’ll find in a time of need.
A gem is what he found back in November when the Charge roster was in desperate need of a big man. Charge forward Jon Horford was experiencing back tightness that limited him during the preseason. Affiliate player Eric Moreland was still rehabbing his foot that kept him out of Cavs training camp. Fellow affiliate player Jonathan Holmes, the team’s projected starting power forward, signed with Barcelona on the first day of Charge training camp.
That left one healthy big – Mike Dunigan. We know “Big Mike” is great – but he can’t do it all. This is where Gansey worked his magic. The Charge signed power forward Gerald Beverly from the available player pool on November 16th just a week after the Los Angeles D-Fenders waived him after selecting him in the 3rd round of the 2016 NBA D-League Draft.
“We liked Gerald in the draft,” Gansey said. “He was one of our top bigs on our board. We loved his physicality, athleticism and rebounding. When LA waived him, he was somebody we looked at and eventually brought in. It turned out to be a great move.”
Beverly made a name for himself at Daemen College, a Division II school located in Buffalo, New York. While with the Wildcats, Beverly was named ECC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015 as well as All-ECC First Team in 2014 and 2015. He parlayed his strong play into an opportunity in Germany this past summer.
Beverly appeared in 40 games for the Wine & Gold this season, averaging 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per contest. The 6-8 power forward, chiseled from stone, impressed in his debut with 10 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes at home versus Grand Rapids on November 18th. In his 40 games, he would go on to record season highs of 17 points at Fort Wayne in the last game of the regular season, 13 rebounds on December 30th in Erie and four blocks on November 23rd at Long Island.
“He made an impact right away in his first game versus Grand Rapids and he made a huge impact in games at Northern Arizona and versus Maine,” Gansey.
Beverly elevated his game in the postseason, averaging 9.0 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 75% from the field in 14.5 minutes off the bench.
“We do not reach the playoffs without Gerald,” Gansey says.
While the season didn’t end the way that Beverly or anyone else in the Wine & Gold wanted, Beverly reflected on his time in Canton in quite the positive manner.
“I loved being with this organization,” Beverly said. “They brought me in after my experience in Los Angeles and gave me a great opportunity.”
Beverly made quite the impression from day one with his work ethic.
“Gerald was good,” teammate Mike Dunigan said. “He came in and lifted on his own, got shots up on his own and would grab the coaches to do extra work. Just having that mindset and work ethic will go a long way for his career.”
They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
“I totally enjoyed myself every day,” Beverly said. I looked forward to coming to every single practice and making every single road trip all season long.”
Like many young players in the NBA D-League, Beverly had a rollercoaster of a season – experiencing ups and downs as the grind of the season wore on.
“The NBA D-League was definitely a jump from what I experienced playing in the fourth league in Germany,” Beverly said. “I definitely proved 100% that I can play in this league.”
With every passing day, Beverly worked to get better.
“I worked on my basketball IQ,” Beverly said. “It’s important to know where to be on the court and the right time. I also learned how to use my body to help finish around the rim,” Beverly said. “Especially when going up against bigger guys – the 6 foot 11 guys.”
Charge play-by-play man usually has the best seat in the house – and saw Beverly’s improvement as the season charged on.
“A work in progress offensively, Beverley’s game on the offensive end improved as the season wore on,” Zurilla said. “By the end of the season and into the playoffs, Beverly was a solid contributor battling opponents bigs coming off the bench in Coach Nate Reinking’s rotation.”
Work ethic, determination, and freak athleticism aside, what Gerald Beverly may have brought most to the team was a warm and endearing personality that was infectious.
“When you first look at G-Bev, he has all of that muscle and you don’t expect him to be as agile and as limber as he is,” teammate Mike Dunigan said. “You expect a real hardnosed person, but when he opens his mouth you realize that he’s a real human being. He’s not one dimensional – he has a soul and can be reached as a person.”
Scott Zurilla would remind you that you should not mistake Beverly’s kindness for weakness, he was anything but while on the floor.
“Though soft spoken and polite off the floor, Beverly was anything but while on the floor,” Zurilla said. “Built like a tank, Beverly often played like one, out-muscling opponents for position and rebounds in the paint with pure power and athleticism.”
Despite the ups and downs in terms of playing time, Beverly surely improved his stock.
“He has so many options moving forward and it’s up to him to decide what he wants to do,” Dunigan said.
Before returning to Buffalo for an offseason full of working out and staying ready, Beverly was appreciative of the Charge front office and coaching staff.
“The staff saw my potential and helped me unlock it the best they could,” Beverly said. “I’ve definitely improved this year.”
“He works so hard,” Gansey said. “He was a great teammate and somebody who will only get better moving forward.”
That’s high praise from one of the brightest young minds in basketball.
This offseason, you can follow Gerald on Twitter @GBev55.