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A natural born shooter, this is what Troy Daniels has done his entire life

14/07/2021
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Three fingers pointing to his temple three times. Boom, boom, boom. The ritual is called “Three Bullets”. Troy Daniels does it every time he hits a three-point shot, which he has often done in his career, 569 times in the NBA playing half that many games, 240 times in the G-League, 251 times while in college. Do the math: it’s 1,060 made threes. But there are three and three, there are field goals that have a greater impact than others. “Undrafted” out of college, Daniels spent his first season with the Rio Grande Vipers, the Houston Rockets-affiliated G-League team. In February of 2014 he signed his first NBA contract, played his first NBA game in March, but then returned to Rio Grande, and was called up right before the playoffs. In Game 3, in Portland, the Rockets were down 2-0, with foul troubles across the roster, Coach Kevin McHale decided to send on the court a player he had never used in the first two games. With the number 30 from VCU Troy Daniels.

“What I saw in him – McHale said after the game – is a tough guy, with no fear.” In overtime, Houston was still two points down when James Harden lost control of the ball. Jeremy Lin picked it up before the disaster was complete. After a couple of dribbles, he somehow dumped the ball toward the first red jersey that crossed his line of sight. Troy Daniels is a shooter. At that moment he was in rhythm, very far from the basket, but in rhythm. He did not hesitate. A moment later, having scored the winning three, he found himself overwhelmed by the hug of his teammates. The first of them was the legendary Tracy McGrady at the end of his career. It was the biggest three of his career. But he has scored many more of them.

Raised in Virginia, in Roanoke, he attended Virginia Commonwealth during the Coach Shaka Smart golden years. He also played an NCAA Final Four although as a role player. Daniels in truth has emerged during his senior year. In particular, the key date is December 7, 2012, against Old Dominion, when he scored 24 points with eight triples. On December 29, continuing his magical period, he set the conference record scoring nine threes, against Fairleigh Dickinson. That evening he said the record would last a long time. And instead…

Instead, four days later, on the road, at East Tennessee State, Daniels went 11 for 20 from three. His own record was destroyed again, four days later. At the NCAA Final Four he was called up to compete in the three-point shooting contest, winning it. In the final round, he missed his first seven shots, then he got in the rhythm, made 10 straight, and finished dominating. “The best shooter I’ve ever coached is Troy Daniels,” said Shaka Smart, who later moved on to coach Texas and now is the head man at Marquette.

But his three-point shooting records, the conference championship and two rounds in the NCAA Tournament were not enough to guarantee Daniels a selection in the NBA draft. However, in Houston, the general manager Daryl Morey was looking for players suitable for the kind of basketball that his club was trying to establish and offered to Daniels the chance to play in Rio Grande in the G-League and prove that his terrific shooting accuracy was replicable at a professional level. “You can say whatever you want about the G-League, but it has me prepared for this moment,” Daniels said after the Rockets’ winning shot in Portland. In fact, in Rio Grande, Daniels made 240 three-pointers – a league record -, averaging 21.5 points per game. As a result, he was called up by the Rockets, returned to Rio Grande and got back to the NBA before the playoffs. By the way, that Rio Grande team featured Robert Covington, now in Portland, an 8-year NBA veteran, and Isaiah Canaan, another eventual NBA player who now plays for the Unics Kazan. They were eliminated in the semifinal series when Daniels had already left to play for Houston.

Over the next few years, Daniels struggled to find a permanent home (“I came from being undrafted and I have had one NBA sport for seven years when there are just 450,” he said last year when he moved from Lakers to the Denver Nuggets) but has built up a reputation as an incredible shooter. When he was in Charlotte, for example, he made eight triples in one game, against Sacramento, including the winning shot. When he was in Memphis, he once scored 22 points in a single quarter. During the two years he spent in Phoenix, he was 18th for three-point field goals made despite playing only 21 minutes per game. He had a streak of 32 games with at least one made three and had one game with six threes in one period. In 2019, he signed for the Los Angeles Lakers, but was released before the season was stopped – and therefore before the playoffs – to make room for a more experienced player like JR Smith. However, he was part of the team that won the NBA championship and got his ring, even though he not only played the playoffs with the Denver Nuggets, but also crossed paths with the Lakers in the playoffs. In seven years, he has had the satisfaction not only of playing in the NBA, but of having as teammates players like James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston; LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the Lakers; Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in Denver. The top.

“Every NBA team knows who Troy Daniels is,” said his latest NBA coach, Michael Malone. “When he’s on the court he’ll garner the respect of all defenses because he’s a knockdown three-point shooter. If you need a three or to space the floor, you will get it from him.” Olimpia wanted him exactly for this.