Draft night played out just as expected for the Miami Heat.
That's exactly what happened and they got their man by making a trade with the Charlotte Hornets. After drafting NBA D-League player P.J. Hairston with the 26th pick, the Heat sent him, their second-round pick and a future second-rounder to Charlotte for Napier.
"The first thing that jumps off is the winning attitude," Napier said. "That's one of the biggest things. When you compete at that high level, you want to win every single game. That winning attitude comes in the first day you arrive at that camp. On the first day you arrive to that organization, you want to work, and you want to prove that you can get back there."
Until LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh figure out their status, Napier will soon be one of three players on next year's roster whose rights belong to Heat. The others are Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton.
The Heat initially thought they would have to part ways with Cole to acquire Napier. He was dangled as trade bait until it was evident Napier would slip in the draft. He was originally pegged a mid-round pick, with teams such as the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls showing strong interest.
As the draft continued, Napier's name kept being bypassed. It was almost to the point of the Heat nearly getting him without making a trade until Charlotte snagged him two picks earlier at No. 24.
The Cole offer was no longer necessary, with the teams swapping just one spot. The move strengthens what the Heat considered a weak area. Point guard play became an issue after Cole and Mario Chalmers had difficulties in the postseason.
Both battled inconsistencies throughout the past three seasons despite the Heat winning two NBA titles. With Chalmers having completed the final year of his contract, Napier is expected to provide depth.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Napier arrives with the endorsement of James, who publicly cheered him during the NCAA Tournament game in April. Napier, who averaged 18 points and 4.9 assists his senior season, led UConn to victory against Kentucky in the final.
During the game, James tweeted Napier was the best available point guard in the draft. He reinforced that Thursday night by tweeting, "My favorite player in the draft! #Napier."
"I don't know if I'm bringing him back [to Miami]," Napier said. "I would love it. Me and LeBron's relationship, he's a great guy. I've been to his camps. Me and him chatted a few times at his camps."
Heat president Pat Riley said James never contacted him about the possibility of drafting Napier. The decision was made solely based on Napier fitting the Heat mold of drafting experienced players.
Napier played four years in college, winning two national titles. He led the Huskies in scoring the last two seasons. The bio is similar to Cole, a four-year player at Cleveland State who became an immediate contributor once he was drafted in 2011.
“He’s a winner,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “I think he’s talented and he’s skilled. You just have to watch him play the game and there’s a competitive level that we all like.”
Now, the Heat have a decision to make because they are unable to keep all three point guards. Despite Chalmers starting more games than anyone outside the Big Three the past four seasons, the Heat wouldn't have to worry about his $4 million salary by not re-signing him.
There's always opportunity to do something great, and no matter if I was going to slide in as a starter or come off the bench, I'm still going to work hard," Napier said. "I'm going to compete. That's who I am."
The Heat's draft-day move ended a first round that began with history. With the Cleveland Cavaliers choosing Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins, it marked the first time two fellow non-American countrymen were taken with the No. 1 pick in consecutive years.
The Cavaliers last year chose Anthony Bennett, who is also Canadian. At No. 2, the Milwaukee Bucks took Duke forward Jabari Parker while the Philadelphia 76ers took a risk at third with Kansas center Joel Embiid. He was expected to slide once it was revealed he underwent foot surgery to repair a stress fracture. The injury could sideline him up to four months.
The Orlando Magic chose Arizona forward Aaron Gordon and the Utah Jazz picked Australian guard Dante Exum to round out the top five.