“Q6” joins Milwaukee equation
The Milwaukee Bucks put out a “Help Wanted” sign during the offseason of 2012, looking for a long, athletic individual to bolster their backcourt.
They consider themselves fortunate to have found a team-first, model employee whose background check reveals that he is a quintessential teammate as well.
On Sept. 25, the Bucks signed nine-year National Basketball Association veteran Marquis Daniels to a free-agent contract. Soon afterward, he expressed excitement over his latest job opportunity.
“The opportunity for me is great here,” Daniels said. “This is a great team -- a great, young team. It’s a great group of guys. The coaching staff is good. I saw a good chance for me to come in here and help out defensively as well as offensively. I just want to help out in whatever way I can.”
Those words came as no surprise to Bucks swingman Mike Dunleavy, who was a Daniels teammate from 2006-09 with the Indiana Pacers.
“Marquis is one of my favorite teammates of all time – a great guy, a great guy to be around in the locker room and a smart, heady, intelligent player,” Dunleavy said. “He brings a certain skill set to the team. He’s just a great addition to the team. If you can pick up a guy like that in the last week of September, I mean, that’s a big pick-up.
“Marquis will add some size back there at the ‘2’ position. He can guard the ‘1’, the ‘2’ and the ‘3’.. He fills a lot of holes. I’m glad we got Marquis. Now we have a legitimate ‘2’ guard who can back up Monta with experience.”
The depth Daniels provides at the “2” and “3” positions could pay immediate dividends, with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the team’s premier defender, sidelined while rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery.
“We don’t have Luc to defend in the backcourt, but Marquis can do that,” Bucks General Manager John Hammond said. “That does help us.
“Having a piece like Marquis should help us, especially defensively, and he’s a reliable player offensively, also.”
Daniels welcomes the opportunity to provide the perimeter defender Milwaukee was seeking.
“That’s very important,” Daniels said. They were looking for somebody who could come in and guard longer guards and bigger guards. I think this is a great chance for me to help this team a lot.”
Daniels has built his career by embracing the opportunities that have come his way. And those opportunities didn’t come easily.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 200-pound Orlando, Fla., native spent four years at Auburn University, earning his degree in sociology in just three and a half years.
He was named the Tigers’ most valuable player following his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He wound up ninth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,530 points and became the Tigers’ career leader in steals.
Daniels led Auburn on a Sweet-16 run in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, averaging 23.3 points and 7 rebounds in three games, including a 27-point, nine-rebound performance in a one-point loss to eventual national champion Syracuse.
He was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the Birmingham News and CollegeInsider.com after his senior campaign, but was not selected in the 2003 NBA Draft and entered the league as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks.
Daniels saw spot duty during his rookie campaign with the Mavs, but made the most of it. When Steve Nash was out with the stomach flu, coach Don Nelson plugged in Daniels as the starting point guard and he delivered a near triple-double, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, followed by a 16-point, seven-rebound, eight-assist game the next night.
Later that season, Daniels averaged 19.7 ppg, 6 rpg and 5 apg during a 10-game stretch.
Daniels is grateful for the veterans who helped show him the NBA ropes during his rookie season and the next few years.
“I had the luxury of playing under guys like Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley and Antawn Jamison,” Daniels said. “The team was loaded. It was just a matter of watching guys like them and learning what to do and what not to do. They helped me learn that awareness.
“I had some good veteran guys when I came into the league who kind of showed me the way. It’s important to be a good teammate on and off the court. You’re around your teammates more than you’re around your family, so you’ve got to be able to look to the side of you and know that this guy’s going to have your back regardless of the situation.”
Daniels spent three seasons with Dallas before being traded July 6, 2006, to the Pacers for forward Austin Croshere. After spending two years as one of the Pacers’ top reserves, he started 43 of 54 games in 2008-09 and produced a career-high 13.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg and 2.1 apg.
Daniels signed with the Boston Celtics as a free agent on Sept. 1, 2009, and played three years for the Celtics before catching on with the Bucks this fall. He has always been considered a team-first player.
“I’ve been in pretty much every situation you could imagine,” Daniels said. “You’ve got to be able to understand situations other than yours. Not everybody’s going to have a great day every day, but you’ve got to be there for your teammates and try to lift them up. You’ve got to have an understanding that everyone is going to make mistakes. Coaches are going to make mistakes and players are going to make mistakes. At the end of the day, you’ve got to stay on the same page and work through things together.”
Daniels has thrived on filling the mentor role that Nash, Nowitzki and others did for him during his early NBA career.
“I enjoy that,” Daniels said. “I try to do it a little more by example than by talking. I do a little bit of both. I do drills with them to try to keep them ready.
“Regardless of what kind of player you want to be in this league, what you do when no one else is watching is so important. You can’t just try to do the right things when people are watching. You have to be ready whenever your number is called.”
Scott Skiles is confident that whenever he calls on No. 6, Marquis Daniels will be ready.