Miami Heat News: Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside Recalled From D-League

It appears Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside’s stay with the Sioux Falls Skyforce was a short one after all.
The Miami Heat announced early Monday that they have recalled both Napier and Whiteside from their D-League affiliate. Both players were sent to Sioux Falls on December 13, just a day before the Heat were set to play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. Napier and Whiteside made one appearance for the Skyforce, leading the team to a 124-105 victory over the Iowa Energy on Saturday.

OFFICIAL: The @MiamiHEAT have recalled both Shabazz Napier & Hassan Whiteside from the @SFSkyforce (@nbadleague) – http://t.co/zTU2suztTd
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 15, 2014

Napier scored 22 points, notched three assists, two rebounds and a steal in the victory. Whiteside recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds and blocked four shots in his lone appearance for the D-League affiliate.
Both players will be available for Tuesday night’s game in Brooklyn when the Heat take on the Nets. In …

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Miami Heat News: Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside Assigned to D-League Affiliate

Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside will be receiving more playing time. It just won’t be with the Miami Heat in the near future.
The Heat announced early Saturday that Napier and Whiteside have been assigned to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a D-League affiliate of the organization.
With Chris Andersen set to return in the next few days, the Heat are already loaded on the front line as is, with Chris Bosh, Shawne Williams, Udonis Haslem, Justin Hamilton, Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts. Whiteside had filled in and played a few minutes in three appearances due to the absences of Andersen and McRoberts. The center totaled six points, four rebounds and one block in nine minutes of action since being signed to the active roster on November 24.

Move with Whiteside indicates Chris Andersen likely on the verge of returning from his sprained ankle.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) December 13, 2014

Napier has been a key part of Miami’s rotation, averaging 5.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and two assis…

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Shabazz Muhammad throws down the hammer on Chris Kaman (Video)

Minnesota Timberwolves reserve forward Shabazz Muhammad finished a fast break by throwing down a monster one-handed slam over Portland Trail Blazers center Chris Kaman during the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game at the Target Center.Muhammad scored 11 points off the bench as the Timberwolves pulled off an upset the Blazers with a 90-82 victory.Video via NBA.
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Minnesota Timberwolves Weekly; Shabazz Muhammad surging

This past week:
This was a brutal week to be a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Yesterday, the Timberwolves lost to the San Antonio Spurs by 20 and that wasn’t even their worst loss of the week, as they also lost to the pitiful Philadelphia 76ers who hadn’t won a game this season. The best game of the week was the game against the Houston Rockets, even though the Timberwolves lost, they managed to push a playoff bound team into overtime and rebounded from an ugly loss to the 76ers. However even against Houston, turnovers and bad defense really hurt the team, which is becoming an alarming pattern for this team.
Game Balls:
Shabazz Muhammad
The best player this week for the Timberwolves the week was definitely Shabazz Muhammad. While he didn’t get many minutes against the Sixers, he scored 20 points in both games against the Rockets and Spurs, while shooting over 50 percent from the field for the week. Zach LaVine is another player deserving of a game ball, as he recorded his first double double again

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Can Shabazz Napier Sneak into NBA Rookie of the Year Conversation?

In the 27 seasons the Miami Heat have been a member of the NBA, they’ve won zero Rookie of the Year awards. There’s an outside chance they could break the schneid this season.

In a recent five-on-five on ESPN.com that touched on the first month of a handful of the league’s top freshmen, columnist Brian Windhorst floated an interesting position. While he thought Jabari Parker was the most impressive rookie, he mentioned Shabazz Napier in the next breath, saying, “I have also been pleasantly surprised by Miami’s Shabazz Napier, who is adjusting to the NBA game faster than I thought he would.”

This is surprising, in part, because there’s nothing about Napier’s initial performance that jumps out—at least not relative to some of his more heralded draft mates.

Through 16 games, Napier is averaging a middling 6.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 22.9 minutes a night. If these counting stats sound unimpressive, it’s because they are. On a per-minute basis, among rooks who have played more than 160 minutes, Napier is just eighth in points, 12th in rebounds and fifth in assists. This is not the stuff of ROY contention.

The advanced stats have taken a similarly dim view of Napier. BoxscoreGeeks.com, using wins produced, calculates that he’s been 63 percent as productive as the average point guard thus far in 2014-15. Basketball-Reference.com’s win shares formulation disagrees: It maintains he’s been worth just 31 percent of the average 1.

His 10.1 player efficiency rating is, likewise, well below average.

But lurking beneath this, there’s actually ample reason for optimism. Napier has turned it on as of late.

In the six games between Nov. 16 and Nov. 25, the guard scored in double figures every night out and broke 50 percent from the floor in each game save for a 94-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets—in which he shot 4-of-9 from the floor, all three-pointers, and scored 14.

In that stretch, Napier averaged 12.3 points and shot 53.3 percent. But as impressive as he was in that time, it wasn’t necessarily out of character for the rookie. He’s been unusually efficient as a shooter in his (very) young career.

Napier has posted a 60.1 true shooting percentage through 16 games., largely a function of a healthy 40.5 percent mark from three-points range. This is good for third on the Heat, per Basketball-Reference.com, behind just a smoking Shawne Williams and the little-used Justin Hamilton. It’s also second-best in the rookie class, according to ESPN.com.

Erik Spoelstra’s confidence in the young guard has soared as well. Talking to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, Spo gushed about his performance, saying, “You’ve got to have the ‘it’ sometimes, as a competitor, if you’ve been part of a winning program and you’ve been a big part of that in the biggest moments…That’s a quality sometimes statistics can’t measure.  But it translates in this league.”

The coach added that the rookie’s improvement had been marked.

“He’s a competitor,” Spoelstra said. “He rises to the occasion. I’m just going into it with an open mind, in this, his rookie year. He’s been getting better. He’s been open to all the work. And that has to continue.”

This all augers very well for Napier. The bead on him is that he likes to shoot. During his college career at Connecticut, he was an unusually aggressive point guard. In his college career, Napier took 19.3 shots per 100 possessions—a number that swelled to 21.6 his senior season.

But it’s been a different story so far in South Beach. As efficient as Napier’s been, he’s been equally reticent to shoot the basketball in Miami’s veteran lineup. His 16.6 percent usage rate is more than 10 percentage points below the number he posted his senior season and, according to ESPN.com, is just 12th among rookies.

But if Napier continues to assert himself in Miami’s offense and does so while hitting his shots at an above-average rate, it’s entirely possible he could sneak into the Rookie of the Year discussion. Especially given that NBA awards voters have a well-demonstrated bias toward players who score buckets, which is exactly the sort the Heat have in Napier.

Napier’s case gets stronger when we consider him against what has been, up to this point, a disappointing rookie class. The hubbub that accompanied Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker into the league hasn’t yet materialized in the highlight plays—and full box scores—some envisioned.

According to ESPN.com, only three rookies are above the league average PER of 15—Nikola Mirotic, Aaron Gordon and Jabari Parker—and they’re each stationed between 15.15 and 15.85. Only 11 rookies are over 10. Wins produced, courtesy of BoxscoreGeeks.com, has six rookies producing at an above-average rate, including Parker, but the numbers are still clear. This, so far, has been a pretty mediocre bunch.

So with a strong close to the season—especially with the name-value advantage Napier has after leading the Huskies to the 2014 national title—it’s conceivable the guard could steal a few votes in ROY voting. And, just maybe, steal enough to break a certain streak.

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Five reasons Shabazz Muhammad needs more minutes

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a young roster with a lot of potential, and one of these players is Shabazz Muhammad. This is Muhammad’s second season with the team, after he was drafted out of UCLA in the first round. However, even though Muhammad is a young player on a team that is rebuilding, he still isn’t getting much playing time.
Shabazz Muhammad
Part of the reason for this is that he plays the same position as Andrew Wiggins, who the Timberwolves are trying to get as many minutes as possible so he can refine his game. However, Muhammad should still be getting playing time, as he continues to look good whenever he is in.
Here are the five reasons Muhammad should see more minutes:
1) Muhammad worked hard all summer to improve with an intense conditioning program and he continues to hustle his tail off whenever he is in. Even when Muhammad isn’t playing his best, he still has a positive impact on the floor, as he makes the hustle plays, whether it is going for a loose ball or drawing a charge.
2)

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Shabazz Napier shows crafty ball handling skills vs Nets (Video)

Miami Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier was showing off his crafty ball handling skills during the second quarter of Monday night’s game in Brooklyn.Napier had Deron Williams’ head spinning with his behind-the-back dribbling and shake-and-bake moves.Napier scored 11 points as the Heat beat the Nets 95-83.Video via NBA.
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Heat’s Shabazz Napier Turns Deron Williams All Around the Court with Spin

Rookies around the NBA are starting to get comfortable and more confident as the season continues, including Miami Heat point guard Shabazz Napier.

The former Connecticut Huskies star showed off his terrific ball-handling skills on Monday against the Brooklyn Nets, spinning Deron Williams around.

[Vine]

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Buy or Sell: Is Shabazz Napier the Answer at Point Guard for the Miami Heat?

As Miami attempts to figure out a rotation with its new unit, players like Shabazz Napier and Shawne Williams will play pivotal roles and extended minutes. The Miami Heat drafted Napier to fill a need at point guard and added Williams for another big body who can stretch the floor. 

Should the Miami Heat play Napier in crunch time? What is the role Williams plays in Miami’s game plan? Once healthy, will Danny Granger be inserted into the lineup over James Ennis?

Find out as Ethan Skolnick dishes on the Miami Heat in “Buy or Sell” with Stephen Nelson in the video above.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Shabazz Napier Forcing Way into Miami Heat Point Guard Conversation

Shabazz Napier once seemed like another reason for LeBron James to remain with the Miami Heat.

No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier,” King James tweeted in April.

Team president Pat Riley denied that James actively had anything to do with the organization’s decision to acquire Napier (by trade on draft night), telling reporters, “The point is, if LeBron and I have the same taste in talent, so be it.”

The 23-year-old’s addition didn’t ultimately persuade James to stick around, but it may nevertheless have an immediate impact on a club in desperate need of some playmaking.

Riley got Napier just weeks after starting point guard Mario Chalmers flopped in the Finals, averaging 4.4 points and 33.3 percent shooting in five games against the San Antonio Spurs. Miami ultimately elected to keep Chalmers—a free agent this summer—but it’s become no secret this team needs improved play from its floor general.

Chalmers and reserve point guard Norris Cole have had solid, if uneven, preseasons. 

Napier has been the story instead, making an increasingly strong case for heavy minutes in Miami’s rotation this season—perhaps starting from day one.

The Connecticut product has averaged 16.8 points through his last four preseason contests, a marked improvement over the nine combined points he scored in the first two games.

As the Miami Herald‘s Joseph Goodman recently noted, “With each passing preseason game, Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier is providing more and more proof that LeBron James’ skills as an evaluator of talent might be better than previously thought.”

Something seems to be clicking for the 24th overall pick.

After a woefully inefficient performance during NBA Summer League play, Napier is now demonstrating a steadier shot while adding some passing, defense and a knack for getting to the free-throw line (where he made 12 of 14 attempts in a preseason meeting with the Spurs).

Napier chalked up the rough Summer League debut to the basketball.

“I just want to continue to get better at everything,” Napier told reporters in August. “But my biggest thing is getting comfortable with that basketball. That’s one of my biggest problems and it’s kind of ironic, because it’s a basketball. But it’s different than a college basketball.”

Sounds plausible enough. 

“The funny thing is, I never really touched an NBA ball until I left school,” he added. “I told myself I never wanted to. I felt like it was superstitious, like something bad was going to happen, like I had to earn it. I never touched it and it’s definitely different. This ball is leather and the biggest thing for me now is getting comfortable with it.”

It just one of the learning curves for the young pro. While a small sample size of preseason work may inspire optimism, head coach Erik Spoelstra hasn’t been convinced of much—even after Napier’s 25-point outburst against San Antonio.

“He just needs to keep working,” Spoelstra told reporters this week. “That’s the only message I’ve given him. We have seen a residual from all the time he has put in, but we’re not drawing any conclusions at this point.”

It’s a conservative approach made possible by Chalmers and Cole, both of whom are already familiar with Spoelstra’s system.

There’s not yet any guarantee Napier cracks the rotation, much less the starting lineup. But four seasons at UConn and a national championship may have prepared him to seize a moment like this and compete for minutes at a position of renewed importance in Miami.

Without James’ leadership on the floor, the Heat’s platoon of point guards will be responsible for running the offense.

“We’re going to be reliant on those guys to handle the ball a lot more for us,” forward Chris Bosh explained to media this week. “Before, we had the luxury of having LeBron be that big point guard and get us into our sets, and [Cole and Chalmers] could kind of take it off a little bit and get in the corner and make plays.

“But now they’re going to have to be the ones calling the plays, getting everyone set, making that extra pass and making the game easier for everybody else.”

Napier has shown flashes of those playmaking instincts during the preseason, tallying seven assists against the Cleveland Cavaliers and twice recording four dimes. That’s the kind of poise and production that could make playing time at the 1 spot a three-man race.

Chalmers is going into his seventh season with the club, coming off of a largely successful campaign in which he averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 assists in 29.8 minutes per game. He made a career-high 45.4 percent of his field-goal attempts, solidifying his status as a reliable role player and earning himself a new contract worth two years and $8.3 million.

He started in all 73 of his games a season ago and remains the favorite to retain that status in 2014-15.

Cole averaged a career-high 24.6 minutes per contest last season (his third), but he’s done little to secure a more prominent role. The 26-year-old adds some energy and a change of pace, but problems with efficiency have persisted to the tune of 41.4 percent shooting a season ago.

So there’s a real opportunity for Napier to prove himself an upgrade over Cole, perhaps even a rival for Chalmers’ starting minutes.

If not now, then soon.

Belief in Napier’s ability isn’t simply a matter of reading preseason tea leaves. There’s a reason James and others have praised his upside.

As the South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman recently put it, “There is something about Napier when it comes to having the ‘it’ factor.”

“I know it’s cliche, but the kid is a winner and carries himself on the court as someone who is comfortable no matter the pressure or surroundings,” Winderman wrote. “I’m not sure he will be a classically consistent scorer, but he has shown time and again the ability to step up to the moment, with his late 3-pointer against the Warriors another of those moments, albeit an exhibition moment.”

Sooner or later, those kind of intangibles could force Spoelstra to make some decisions about his rotation.

“He’s a heady player,” Spoelstra told reporters this month. “He’s playing with more confidence now, playing off his instincts more than he was this summer. I think it was overwhelming this summer. To his credit, he put in a lot of time after that. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work. That’s all we need of him.”

With that hard work and a little opportunity, Miami may get exactly what it needs. In a season that will be defined by what it could have been, Shabazz Napier is one reason to imagine all it still could be.

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