MarJon Beauchamp’s story reads like a Hollywood screenplay.
From considering a break from basketball to making his way into the green room of the 2022 NBA Draft in 15 months, the 6-foot-6 winger’s journey has been a whirlwind one.
After joining Chameleon BX — a training program for draft hopefuls that flopped — he went to junior college in his hometown of Yakima, Wash., instead of four-year college, before ending up with G-League Ignite, the NBA’s top-performing development team . These steps have brought him to the doorstep of a lifetime dream.
“I feel like I’ve found myself and learned new things about myself,” he said on a pre-draft Zoom call on Friday. “I’ve grown as a man and taken steps to where I need to be.”
His roller coaster ride seems to be on the way up and could take him to New York City. Beauchamp, 21, recently had individual training with the Knicks and went out to dinner with head coach Tom Thibodeau and team president Leon Rose.
“I feel like I’m considerate of them,” Beauchamp said, adding, “I think I can come in straight away and play good minutes and learn from the vets that they have. I really feel like I can grow with this team, especially defensively. You know, Coach Thibs is about defense and I feel like that’s going to be my role in the NBA.”
An NBA scout familiar with Beauchamp said the Knicks, which take him 11th, have some reach, but also noted that teams’ predictions for him are all over the map, from the back end of the lottery through the mid-late 20s. He has scored for teams like the Hawks (who will pick 16th), Rockets (3rd, 17th, 26th), Grizzlies (22nd, 29th), Bulls (18th), Cavaliers (14th ), Pelicans (8), Wizards (10), Hornets (13, 15), and Spores (9, 20, 25).
Beauchamp isn’t a 3-and-D prospect at the moment – his knight isn’t one of his strengths; He shot 24.2 percent from distance in the G-League — but his length (he has a 7ft 1 wingspan), defensive versatility and raw athleticism are strengths that make him appealing to teams.
“He’s more of a versatile Brandon Clarke-type defender. Really active, great engine, you don’t have to make games for him,” said the scout. “A sticky type that can adapt to other types of players.”
With G-League Ignite, Beauchamp did well, finishing second on the team in points (15.1) and rebounds (7.3). According to a second source who spent a lot of time with Ignite, its greatest asset was its effectiveness in transition. He’s done a lot for the G-League team, also notching 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals in a team-best 36.6 minutes.
“He’s better in open court than half court,” the source said. “His mid-range stuff is good. He didn’t shoot the ball from 3 – his numbers were bad – but there’s nothing wrong with his shot. He just had to do it more.
“He’s scoring in transition and taking mid-range shots from pin-downs, so he got really efficient.”
A highly regarded four-star contender in high school, Beauchamp joined Chameleon BX in August 2020 hoping to skip a step on the road to the NBA. But it didn’t go according to plan, in part because the COVID-19 pandemic placed restrictions on the San Francisco-based training program. He returned home last February not sure what to do. He eventually transferred to Yakima Valley, a local junior college, where he averaged 30.7 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in an abbreviated 12-game season. That helped him land at G-League Ignite after training with former NBA champion Mike Miller.
“I was about to give up the game when I came back to Yakima from Chameleon BX,” said Beauchamp. “It was probably the hardest time in my life. It was pretty tough because I didn’t have any chances. Like they said, they love you when you’re at your highest, but when you’re at your lowest you don’t really hear from anyone. That was the position I was in.”
Now Beauchamp hears from many teams. He could hear from the Knicks next Thursday.