By Michael Sivo
From being considered a second round draft pick early in the season to getting selected by a team that has three titles in the last eight years, Shabazz Napier is getting ready to take his chance at the next level.
Napier was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 24th pick, and then was shipped to Miami in a trade. For just a moment in time, he was going to be Kemba Walker’s backup once again.
Instead, Napier will be trying to find his own way on a Heat team desperate for young talent.
“We feel that we picked the other night a player that is going to be here for a long time and that’s really going to help us,” said Heat Team President Pat Riley. “He’s very mature, he’s a veteran that’s very experienced, and has proven that he’s a winner.”
For Napier, it was his first time being in Miami, but he’s more focused on becoming better in South Beach.
“Everything is so exciting,” said Napier. “I’m getting ready to learn, and I’m just so excited to be here.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra evaluated a lot of players once his team was eliminated from the NBA Finals, but Napier was one that stuck out.
“We had to go through 40 or 50 players to get ourselves up to speed with draft night,” said Spoelstra, “but from the very beginning of the process, Shabazz’s name was at the top of the list.”
Even though at this moment he is technically not a member of the team, LeBron James voiced his opinions on Napier early and often.
With Napier in play on the Heat now, maybe it will be enough for James to return?