Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two Distinct Paths for Daniels and Napier's NBA Success

Now that the draft is over and Napier and Daniels have landed on NBA rosters, it is up to them to see how far they can go. They both were drafted right around where they were projected to. Napier is heading to a team that is the perfect spot for him while Daniels has settled on a team with no real sense of direction and isn’t known for keeping players around for that long. It will be interesting to see the direction of careers for these two young UConn stars.

The Miami Heat got the man that they wanted in Napier and he fits all the right metrics. His leadership, accountability, and work ethic put him on Riley’s radar, while his winning ways put him on Lebron’s. Shabazz couldn’t have landed on a better team. He’ll have all the talent around him, barring that the big three return which is at this point still looks to be a possibility. On top of that, he isn’t going to be asked to do much other then run the second unit. If he flourishes and begins getting starter minutes then that is fantastic, but as for now, he just needs to continue to improve his pick and roll defense, consistently knock down open jumpers, and limit his turnovers.

DeAndre Daniels has a much tougher uphill climb. He’s on a team that is in flux and loaded with wing players from Terrence Ross, Steve Novak, Amir Johnson, and Landry Fields. They are also not known for the patience of keeping guys lingering on the bottom of their roster for long. He has already come to terms with this and has taken the unusual route to play overseas rather then in the D-league. If he can show some improvement then he will work his way up mid-way through the season. If he does get called up, he needs to show something on tape immediately so that he can land one of those lucrative roster spots, but for now it is not going to be easy for him.

Hopefully Daniels will be able to continue his development and transfer his ability to get points in the paint, extend his range, and handle screens, because it will be hard for him to break through the group of forwards ahead of him if he does not and there are plenty of athletic wings coming up behind him each and every year, but for now he has that coveted upside and should be secure for the next three years. Napier on the other hand has the greatest opportunity but also the highest pressure of producing in year one. There is no doubt that he has the will and tenacity to make it, but no one truly knows if their game will transfer to the next level. So far his summer league has shown flashes of brilliance, but these games sometimes produce fool’s gold.

These two UConn stars have their feet in the door. They both need to continue to work on their craft and show their respected teams that they need to play them more. Many UConn fans can remember these recent names like Majok and Oriakhi. Late round draft choices that are still trying to get onto the NBA court. It will be interesting to see if Daniels ultimately made the right decision to enter the draft early, but for now these two UConn stars have achieved their dreams to be drafted by and NBA team and for that we should be proud of them.

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