Shabazz Napier Using Luol Deng Connection Ahead of London Visit -

Shabazz Napier Using Luol Deng Connection Ahead of London Visit

Shabazz Napier played alongside Luol Deng at Miami Heat last season, and will be heading to his former team-mate’s native London this month as Orlando Magic take on Toronto Raptors in the annual NBA Global Games encounter at the O2 Arena.

A summer trade saw the 24-year-old swap one part of Florida for another as he was sent to Orlando from Miami, where he had the chance to learn from the likes of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh as well as GB 2012 Olympian, Deng.

Napier won a second National Championship in his senior year with UConn before being selected as the 24th pick in the 2014 Draft by Charlotte Hornets for Miami as part of a pre-determined trade.

Deng then headed to South Beach in the early stages of free agency – prior to LeBron James’ decision to return home – and has left a lasting impression on Napier from their time together last season.

“There are a lot of good things to say about him,” stated Napier, when asked about Deng. “He’s an all-around good guy who is passionate about what he does.

“He believes in himself and others around him and is one of those guys you can call on and he will give you 110% effort on any task you have for him.”

That work ethic has underlined Deng’s value in the NBA; making him dependable throughout his career, which began with the Chicago Bulls in 2004. And Napier praised Deng’s dedication and commitment to the game.

“He works extremely hard,” he said. “He wants to be the best he can possibly be on any given day and always wants to get his work done early, and stay late.

“Watching him, I appreciated that very much as a rookie as I was able to take it and run with it.

“The reason why he’s in the position where he’s at in this league is because of what he does work ethic-wise.

“He believes in what he does and continues to get better each and every year – working to improve on what he sees as weaknesses.”

As well as picking up new skills from Deng on the court, Napier revealed that it was his wise words away from the action that resonated with him.

“Two of the main things I learnt from him on the court were his ability to slash, to know when to cut and slice to the basket to get an open layup and just make a defender think that he’s going somewhere without the ball in his hands.

“Off the court, he talked to me all the time about staying level-headed, and always understanding that it’s a long season and to never get too high or too low.

“That’s one thing I have always stuck with since I met him.”

Napier is excited about his impending visit to London next month and plans to get in touch with Deng for advice on how best to spend his down-time in the capital.

“I am actually going to contact [Luol] about being in London and the nice places to see and visit,” he revealed. “He obviously knows it well, and it should be fun.

“I am excited to go there with the team and have a chance to absorb the culture and see the people and find out what it’s like to live in London.

He added: “I have never been so I’m just looking forward to seeing different places – I always want to see different types of cultures in the world.

“I grew up in a raw neighbourhood so I understood what it’s like to grow up in a neighbourhood like that.

“Being where I am now it is definitely cool to witness and feel in a new culture each time because that’s what life’s about – it’s about seeing and learning new things and becoming diverse.

“I am really looking forward to the trip and everything that goes with it.”

Napier is still adjusting to life in the NBA, and is currently averaging 3.9 points and 2.2 assists in 11.8 minutes per game – numbers slightly down from his season with Miami.

However, Orlando are much-improved under new Head Coach Scott Skiles and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 19-15 record – two games behind the 21-13 Toronto Raptors with the two teams having already met in November with Magic winning 92-87 on home court.

The Orlando Magic host the Toronto Raptors at The O2 in London on Jan. 14 as part of NBA Global Games London 2016. The game is live on BT Sport and or via NBA LEAGUE PASS (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *