The Miami Heat held the 26th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and word is they were planning to use it to bring Shabazz Napier to South Beach. Pat Riley (and perhaps more importantly, LeBron James) had fallen in love with the point guard out of Connecticut after he won two NCAA Championships during his four years with the Huskies.
That sort of success garnered a lot of praise from King James, who dubbed him the best point guard in the star-studded prospect pool.
No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 8, 2014
Then again it’s easy to see why. Despite his lack of size and strength (listed at 6’1” with a 6’3” wingspan and weighing in at 180 pounds), he is one the toughest, most competitive players on the court, as well as a leader.
Plus, he can fill up the stat sheet.
In his final season, Napier put up 18 points per game, while shooting 87 percent from the free-throw line and 40percent from three-point range, in addition to finding his teammates for 4.9 assists per game. He also managed to grab an outstanding 5.9 rebounds per game (remember, he is 6’1”) and hounded opposing players for 1.8 steals per game.
And for those that like the advanced stats- he led the NCAA in win-shares with 9.1, while his 3.1 defensive win-shares was good enough to rank him among the top 10 in the nation.
So yeah, it’s pretty easy to see why the Heat were enamored with him.
However, with the 24th overall pick in the draft, the Charlotte Hornets selected the 22-year-old, just two spots ahead of the Miami Heat.
Determined to get his (or LeBron’s) man, Riley traded the 26th pick (which turned out to be P.J. Hairston), the 55th pick (Semaj Christon) and a future second round pick to make his star player happy – although, the move could likely be bad news for Mario Chalmers.
After failing to stay out of foul trouble, Mario Chalmers was unable to have much of an impact during the 2014 NBA Finals and he simply couldn’t get a rhythm
going. As a result, Rio hit just one three-pointer in five games versus the San Antonio Spurs. That eventually led to him being booted out of the starting lineup in Game 5 and that could very well be his last memory as member of the Miami Heat.
The 27-year-old is a free agent this summer, but he has stated he wishes to come back to South Beach. He told Yahoo! Sports: “I hope we stay together. I think we have a good thing going.”
Although from the looks of things, the Heat already have his replacement lined up.
Having said that, he could very well end up back at the American Airlines Arena. After all, Erik Spoelstra does like to go deep into his rotations, so drafting Napier could just be a case of adding quality depth at the point guard spot. Maybe that way the team can even breed a little friendly in-house competition to improve the overall outcome. Then again, that’s just the optimist in me talking, hoping that Riley remembers what Chalmers has done over the years, rather than what he did (or didn’t do) in the final week of the 2013-14 run.
Then there’s Norris Cole.
Napier coming aboard puts him in the unenviable position of not knowing whether he is in, out or being pushed down the pecking order. He could ultimately be the starting point guard should Chalmers end up going elsewhere; he could remain as the trustee back-up floor general and continue to be a spark of the bench; or he could wind up on a different team since he is now expendable.
As for Toney Douglas, his stay in Miami is all but certainly over. He wasn’t able to break into the lineup and consistently hold down a spot in the rotation.
To say the least, the future looks very foggy for some folks in Miami.