Shabazz Napier got into a weird Twitter feud misunderstanding something with LeBron James, but that was the least of concerns for the Heat rookie point guard.
In summer league, Napier shot 28-for-102 (27 percent) and had more turnovers (38) than assists (34). Despite his billing as one of the NBA’s most ready draft prospects, he really didn’t look prepared for the top league.
“I just want to continue to get better at everything,” Napier said. “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.”
“The funny thing is, I never really touched an NBA ball until I left school,” Napier said. “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.”
At UConn, he used a Nike ball, and one of the quirks of the college game is that different teams use different types of basketballs. In the NBA, it’s uniform, with Spalding being the only ball used.
If Napier is still griping about the ball’s texture in training camp, that’s a problem. For now, it’s just illuminating.
We know so much about what makes the college-to-pro transition difficult. The players are bigger and faster. The 3-point arc is farther back. The off-court distractions that come with having money are greater.
But small issues like this get overlooked, and they matter. Switching balls is not overly difficult, but it’s not a seamless task, either.
Napier should be fine, but this is a look into why he didn’t own the summer league. There’s still plenty of time for him to figure everything out.