Shabazz Napier has an open-minded approach into what his role will be this season.
Thanks in large part to Allen Crabbe and even Ed Davis, Napier’s former teammates with the Trail Blazers, the speedy point guard elected to join the Nets despite having options elsewhere.
“Yeah yeah, I heard from a couple of different teams,” he told NetsDaily at Media Day this past Monday. “But I just felt like what I did was just take my time with it and decide for myself what was best. I felt like Brooklyn was the right choice for me and I’ve been happy with the decision since.”
Napier likens himself to the (ascending?) Nets in a lot of ways, insisting the decision to join Brooklyn has more to do about fit than anything else…
“I felt like there was an opportunity to play, opportunity for me to grow, opportunity for me to be with a team that wants to make it to the playoffs,” Napier said. “I think that’s what made it so enticing for me. It made me want to do it so much. It was just a great opportunity for me to grow as a player, to be around staff members and players that are trying to grow as well.”
… And family, as told to the Boston native by Allen Crabbe, the first of three Blazers to join Brooklyn since the summer of 2017. (If you’re keeping score, Ed Davis was second.)
“(We talked about) just how the organization is as a whole and how they treat you,” Crabbe said on Tuesday regarding his previous discussions with Napier. “Not just you but your family and everybody that comes along with you. It’s a big family over here and everybody feels at home. Just the little things that I told (him and Davis) about, you can’t pass up on an opportunity like this.”
Crabbe adds that the additions of his former West Coast teammates gives him a level of excitement ahead of the long-awaited 2018-19 campaign.
“We’ve gotten another Trail Blazer over here in Brooklyn. So I told them if we wanted more Trail Blazers, they can continue to come over here if they want,” Crabbe said, flashing a smile. “It’s great having both of them here. Two competitive guys who know how to play, know how to win, so I think it’ll help our team.”
Where the Nets may not have seemed like an ideal fit, at least on the surface, is on the floor, where the UConn product is currently a back-up point guard at best, and third string at worst. D’Angelo Russell more than likely mans the point, with a possibility that the team tries out Spencer Dinwiddie with Russell to start the season, using Napier to lead the second unit.
But as we’ve learned over the last couple of seasons, the back-up point guard in Brooklyn has suddenly become a prominent position, where you’re taught to stay ready, not get ready.
And Kenny Atkinson said Tuesday that he likes Napier at either guard spot, “Shabazz, a competitor, definitely a guy that can play both positions, the two and the one.”
Napier has no worries about where he stands as of now, and it’s always been his approach.
“I think if you don’t go into the season knowing your role, that’s one of the best things for you as a person and for the team,” he said. “With this team not having a true identity, I think the biggest thing is if you go out, just play and figure it out from there. You don’t want someone to tell you what to do, you want the game to tell you what to do. I don’t go into a season knowing my role. I go into a season trying to figure that out.
“I’ve always been that way,” he continued. “Of course you learn that by being in the NBA, but I’ve always been that way. I don’t think I’m the best player, I don’t think I’m the worst player. I don’t think I’m the best shooter, I don’t think I’m the worst shooter. That’s kind of my ideology on that. Just going into the season with the right mind frame on what you’re going to do, make it as concrete as possible and do that the best way.”