Boy, how things have changed for Patrick Beverley in the past seven months. Last December, Beverley was playing for Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia, dealing with an oppressively cold winter that saw Siberian zookeepers feeding vodka to elephants for their survival, thousands of miles of travel for each game, and a home that was across the world from where he grew up.
Beverley wasn't even starting for Spartak SP, but drew the eye of NBA scouts with his impressive play over the past couple of seasons in Russia. However, when the call came from his agent that a number of NBA teams were interested in signing him, Beverley still had a journey in front of him just to make it back to the States. When he decided on signing with the Rockets (he mentioned that his decision came down to Cleveland or Houston), he set off from Eastern Russia all the way to Chicago, where the Bulls were playing.
"We were playing a team that was close to Japan, called Vladivostok, which was an eight hour flight from St. Petersburg," Beverley said. "So I took an eight hour flight back to St. Petersburg, grabbed my family and my bags. After orchestrating my buyout situation, I took an eleven hour flight from Russia back to Chicago just as the Rockets were playing the Bulls."
If you want an illustration of how far Beverley had to go just get back to when he got the call just to get back to St. Petersburg, here it is on google maps.
That's over 11,000 miles round trip for one game.
And then, just a few months later, Beverley had gone from Russia to Chicago to the D-League to the rotation to eventually starting for the Rockets in a thrilling six game series against the Thunder. Reflecting on this whirlwind of a year, he says, "I still can't believe all of this has happened. It just happened so fast."
But when it came to speculating on his role with the team moving forward, Beverley didn't want to take anything for granted, simply saying "I'm a competitor, I'm going to compete. If I can help the Rockets in any kind of way to reach the goals that we have, I will do whatever it takes."
Despite his hesitance to speculate on his role, one thing is clear with Beverley: He has a ton of ambition and hopes he can continue to improve and make his way up the ladder. He talked about how excited he is to build off of last year, to continue to finish games as he did down the stretch, and how eager he is to get off to a great start with a talented young team.
The one question facing that young team, however, appears to be an unfilled hole at power forward. Talking about the pair of young big men that could be fighting it out for the power forward spot, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, Beverley said that "both are strong big men, stretch fours with different skillsets. Competing is a part of basketball and I think all of our young players do a great job of competing to get better. It's going to be fun either way with D-Mo or Jones in the lineup, and we just can't wait to get started."
That excitement to play is reflected in his presence on a summer league team that he really didn't have to be on. He asked Rockets management to let him play on the team, and they obliged, allowing him to play for the first two games (they'll hold him out for the rest of Summer League). But while he's on the floor, Beverley vowed to "set the tone for the young guys" on the team, "showing them how we do things in the Rockets organization." If Beverley can relay just a little bit of his uncompromising hustle and work ethic to the young players on the Summer League squad, you'd have to imagine Kevin McHale would be a very happy man.