Name: Shabazz Napier Age: 22 (23 in July) School: Connecticut
Height: 6’1 Weight: 180 Projected Position: PG
18.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.8 spg, 2.9 tpg (35.1 minutes per game)
42.9 FG%, 87.0 FT%, 40.5 3FG%, 59.1 TS%, 51.7 eFG%
27.5 USG%, 30.8 AST%, 15.8 TO%, 3.2 STL%, 15.0 DREB%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Napier has shown to be a somewhat consistent perimeter shooter. He has a high, quick release, good follow-through, and range beyond the college three-point line. His motion is a bit funky as he will often kick out one leg and fade away as he is shooting, often making shots more difficult than they need to be. He has the ability to hit his jumper off the pass or dribble, and if he has time to get set, he can be a good spot-shooter. Napier uses screens well to set up his jumper, as well as using his dribble, including a good crossover/step back move, to clear space. Napier’s shot selection is an issue for Napier, but he improved somewhat over his college career. He has the confidence that he can hit any shot he takes, but he has to do a better job making sure the shots are the best, or even a good, option.
Napier can be very effective when he looks to get into the lane and to the basket. He has a quick first step to both his left and right, and he uses his speed and body control to work his way through the defense. Napier has the ability to finish in a variety of ways around the basket, and can finish with either hand. He does a great job using angles around the backboard to make shots when the defense cuts him off, and he doesn’t shy from contact around the basket. Napier keeps his head up and sees the defense when he gets into the lane, but he needs to do a better job reading his options and finding open teammates quicker. Napier uses his dribble well to create space for his mid-range jumper or floater in the lane. Napier is strong at using screens to get into the lane, and he is very good at coming off them tight enough to either force a switch or leaving him with the defense trailing him. He needs to do a better job making reads off these screen situations, though he has improved, and is capable of making some good passes in pick-and-roll situations. Napier has to have a better handle on how far he gets into the lane before he runs out of options among much bigger players, and his shot selection around the basket can sometimes be confusing.
Napier is an excellent ballhandler, able to use both hands well and having a full set of advanced dribbles to accomplish anything from creating space for his jumper to getting into the lane to keeping the defense off-balance. He has good control, keeps the ball low and close to his body, though he can be overly optimistic about how many defenders he can beat at one time. Napier has shown a very good change-of-pace dribble, as well as crossover and spin moves that have left defenders reeling. Napier will attack the basket from either side, and he is very good at finishing with either hand off the dribble. Napier also uses his dribble well to set up his jumper, both mid-range and three-point range. He has a strong step-back move that always gives him plenty of space to get his shot. Napier has very good court vision and can be a very good passer. He does a good job finding open teammates when he draws help defenders off of penetration and his passes are usually strong and on target, though he tries to force passes that aren’t quite open. Napier’s decision making has improved, but he still can go through stretches where he makes bad choices a few trips in a row.
Free Throw Shooting
Napier is a very good free throw shooter, with a consistent routine, smooth shooting motion and follow-through. Napier gets to the line a good amount (almost 1 free throw for every 2 field goal attempts), but you feel he could almost get there anytime he wants with the way he gets into the lane easily and throws his body around. Still, he prefers to shoot jumpers when he has the space, so the number is still impressive.
Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)
Napier is a very good on-ball defender, positioning himself well between his man and the basket, and moving well laterally, even showing the ability to pressure the ball the length of the court. He gets low in his stance, and his hands and feet are constantly active, waiting for his man to lose focus for a second. Napier does take chances on the ball, but he recovers quickly if he misses, and he has learned to limit these attempts. Even if he doesn’t get a steal, Napier has a good ability to force his man to pick up his dribble with a little pressure. He anticipates his man’s movements well, but he needs to watch for falling for quick fakes. Napier does a good job getting over the top of screens when guarding the ball, though because of his size, he can get stuck on screens or be forced under. Off the ball, Napier positions himself well, though he can find himself cheating too much towards help position or overplaying the passing lane. He is a good help defender though, and can move back and forth between his man and help position quickly. He anticipates very well off the ball and he is very strong jumping passing lanes, often using bigger players on the court to hide him from the passer. Napier needs to work on navigating through screens off the ball, especially getting caught in the lane area or through multiple screens, and work on not letting his man get a lot of room to get set for a shot. He has excellent defensive awareness, and he sets the tone for the team defense with his play.
Napier is a very good rebounder for his size, using his speed to get to missed shots, and he doesn’t back down from much bigger players. He needs to make sure about at least putting a body on an offensive player on the perimeter to prevent them from charging in for a rebound. Napier is very good at chasing down long rebounds, anticipating where they will go and looking to beat everyone to the spot, and opponents who are about to grab a rebound need to be weary of him sneaking in and swiping at the ball. Napier can be dangerous when he gets a long rebound because he will just turn and streak up court, so defenses need to keep track of him.
Napier is excellent in transition, getting the ball quickly up court and showing he can be a strong scorer or distributor. He has improved his decision making in the open court, especially when he is moving at full speed. His shot selection if he chooses to keep the ball still needs some work, but he is starting to recognize the possibilities. Napier is also a very good transition defender, often trying anything he can to disrupt the fast break by stopping the ball.
Two national titles in four years and a remarkable run personally through this year’s tournament has been the topper of a great college career for Napier. He showed tremendous loyalty to his team by opting to stick with the Huskies even when they were on probation last season and ineligible for the postseason. Napier has proven to be a strong leader on both ends of the floor and, at times this year, he carried his teams to victories when they were struggling. He is an excellent ballhandler who sees the floor well, but he had to take on a huge scoring role for his team. Napier is a versatile scorer, though his shot selection can be an issue. He is a pesky defender who can disrupt the other team’s offense with his constant movement. He even gets involved in rebounding, leading UConn this season at almost 6 rebounds per game. Napier has a great understanding of the game and can be a factor in a variety of ways, though his size and lack of strength can hurt him at times.
Draft Value: Early 2nd – #31-38
Napier has the makings of a strong NBA backup point guard and an energy boost/defender off the bench. Though this tournament run was impressive, he is still a point guard who makes some shaky decisions and has trouble finishing at the basket. There likely isn’t much upside by taking him, but he will certainly be a welcome addition to any team, and he could probably make somewhat of an impact off the bench in the right situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if he impressed a team enough to sneak into the late 1st round, but he will likely settle in with many other senior leaders in the early 2nd round.
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