Few days ago I had a chance to talk with former Dallas Mavericks player, member of the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2004, and current assistant at the Auburn University, Marquis Daniels.
College and rookie year in the NBA
During the 2003 NCAA Tournament you reached East Regional Semifinal and lost to Carmelo Anthony-led Syracuse by one point. How do you recall your time spent at Auburn, and that game?
My time spent at Auburn was life changing for me, I learned a lot about myself, from being a kid to becoming a man on and off the court. That game against Syracuse was very exciting from tip to finish, to god teams competing at a high level.
Despite good college career, you went undrafted in the 2003 NBA draft. Did you expect to get a call from the Mavericks that fast?
I honestly didn’t know what was going on after the draft, I felt I had played well enough to be drafted all year as well as showed my talents in the tournament, even when I had to work out for other teams. Getting a call from the Mavericks was a huge blessing for me and I trusted GOD throughout the whole process.
Already from the very first game, you had a chance to play for coach Don Nelson. How big influence did he have on your style of play?
Coach Nelson showed me that he believed in me and gave me a chance to show I belonged in the NBA. He allowed me to play numerous positions as well as showed me how to be effective on both ends of the court.
In the last 11 games of your rookie season, you were a starter, averaging over 20 points per game. What gave you the confidence to do so, after spending nearly entire season as a reserve?
I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a bunch of veteran players who trained and approached the game the right way. Guys like Steve Nash who once asked me how good I want to be and to be great I should not do what other players are doing and develop a great work ethic.
You were selected to the All-Rookie Team with your teammate, Josh Howard. How do you recall playing with Josh?
Playing alongside J-Ho was helpful for me and him, coming into the league we both struggled at times, but we were able to lean on each other for advice and push each other to be better players at the same time. We became brothers in the process, and I am thankful I was able to play alongside him.
You had a chance to observe and play with Nash-Nowitzki duo. Do you see many similarities between them and Doncic-Porzingis duo?
I see some similarities even though I believe they are taller at both positions. They both are very talented young and upcoming players who will and is great for the game of basketball.
The 2005-06 Mavericks. What do you think made this team so good, and allowed you to reach the NBA Finals? The roster did not change that much from 2004-05 season.
Our chemistry was different, we felt we came up short the year before and guys worked all summer to reach our goal, unfortunately we came up short. But overall, that was an exciting season!
Playing for the Pacers and Celtics
In 2006 you were traded to the Pacers. Was it something that you anticipated?
Yeah, I honestly wanted to be traded the year before that. Just was seeing eye to eye with coach at the time. Some of my teammates talked me into staying one more year before I was traded to Indiana.
In Indiana you played with Danny Granger. What do you think was his ceiling if it was not for the injuries?
Danny was super talented he defended at a high level and had a great work ethic to go along with it. I think he was on pace to become a great player, unfortunately the injury bug showed up.
In 2009 you signed with the Celtics. Obviously, you did not have that much playing time, but how do you recall playing with a group of Hall-of-Famers?
I actually played a lot with the Celtics; I just suffered a torn ligament in my thumb that forced me to miss significant time due to my surgery. Playing with those caliber players helped you mentally to become a pro on and off the court.
Coming back to Auburn as a member of the coaching staff – how much do you think you are able to help the young players?
Being a big brother/mentor to so many talented kids who have aspirations to be an NBA or overseas player is a great experience for me. It allows me to help them in areas of their game and life to be that person or player they choose to be and with me being able to be an inspiration here at Auburn makes it even sweeter!