Napier drafted in first round by Charlotte, then traded to Miami; Daniels to Toronto
The wait to be drafted may have been long, but it was worth it for Shabazz Napier, writes Patrick Tiscia.
The 2013-14 basketball season was a dream for Shabazz Napier.
From a memorable buzzer-beater against Florida to winning AAC Player of the Year to, of course, winning a national championship and Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament, his year could not have been scripted better.
On Thursday, it was capped off by every basketball player's ultimate vision.
The UConn alum was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 24th pick in the first round and was promptly traded to the Miami Heat.
After a great junior season, Napier seriously contemplated leaving for the NBA, but, at best, would’ve been selected in the second round.
Clearly, he made the right decision. Not only did he have a spectacular season, his workouts in the pre-draft camps improved his stock immensely.
Now, it appears be will be starting next to LeBron James.
James, at the moment, is a free agent, but expect him to re-sign with the Heat once Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade renegotiate their contracts. During the NCAA Tournament, James famously tweeted that Napier was the best point guard in college.
On Thursday, James added on Twitter: “My favorite player in the draft! #Napier”
“He’s a great guy. I’ve been to his camps, and me and him have chatted a few times,” Napier told the media at the Barclays Center, the scene of UConn’s season-opening win over Maryland.
“It’s special to know what one of the best players in the world thinks about you and appreciates your talent.”
While the wait may have been longer than he hoped, the perfect fit found Napier. Miami’s starting point guard this past season, Mario Chalmers, was a disaster in the NBA Finals. He is a free agent and will not be brought back.
“The chip will never leave my shoulder,” Napier said. “That’s what makes me who I am.”
Napier will not only see plenty of minutes, but will also have LeBron to help out with the ball-handling against tougher defenses.
"There's always opportunity to do something great, and no matter if I was going to slide in as a starter or come off the bench, I'm still going to work hard,” Napier said. “I'm going to compete.”
Plus Napier, very accustomed to winning as evidenced by his two titles in Storrs, will not have to go through the growing pains of losing many top rookies have to endure.
“The first thing that jumps off is the winning attitude,” Napier said. “That's one of the biggest things. When you compete at that high level, you want to win every single game. That winning attitude comes in the first day you arrive at that camp. On the first day you arrive to that organization, you want to work, and you want to prove that you can get back there. Not prove to anybody, but to yourself, to your teammates that you can get back there.”
It’s a perfect match and the perfect end to a season for the ages.
Meanwhile, DeAndre Daniels, who left school with one year left of eligibility, was selected with the 37th pick of the second round by the Toronto Raptors.
Daniels’ last two seasons were roller coasters, starting slow each year before finishing strong. He even considered leaving early after last season. His three-point shooting ability will help Toronto, a team that struggled for offense in the playoffs against Brooklyn.
Talent is the least of worries concerning Daniels. His consistency, though, is a major one. The same player you saw play outstanding in the NCAA Tournament was the same one who went scoreless against Yale.
Those types of ups and downs will lead to D-League demotions, or worse, a career overseas. On a second round contract, Daniels won’t have the luxury of taking nights off or he’ll be out of the league.
He certainly has the ability to make sure that won’t happen.