Napier and Ennis: A Lost Luxury

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James’s decision left the Miami Heat organization in a bit of a pickle, now having to move on without the best player in the world. While Pat Riley looks to put together a team that can try to imitate the success of the past four years, two of Miami’s younger players now have to move forward without the luxury of having the league’s top athlete there to guide them. How they’ll manage is tough to predict, but perhaps we can find some hints at Summer League.

Miami traded up a couple spots to take NCAA Champion Shabazz Napier, and James Ennis was originally selected by the Atlanta Hawks late in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft before his rights were traded to the Heat. The two will be headlining Miami’s Summer League roster, particularly after their showings at Orlando Summer League.

James Ennis averaged 17 points a night on 52.4% shooting from the field in Florida, while Napier left fans wanting more after a poor 15-55 shooting output in five games.

Two days ago, the Summer Leagues of Napier and Ennis would be mean less than it does now. With LeBron on the roster, they’d have the game’s best player aiding them in their development, but more importantly their time on the floor would go a lot more smoothly.

Now instead of spotting up or being fed picture-perfect chest passes on backdoor cuts, Napier and Ennis may be forced to create more of their own opportunities than they would with James around. And where better to get a glimpse of how they’d do in these situations than in Summer League?

David Vertsberger

David Vertsberger cares a little too much about basketball topics that few others discuss and basketball in general, probably. He also runs Brooklyn's Finest of ESPN's Truehoop Network and can be followed on Twitter at @_Verts.