NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UConn PG Shabazz Napier
|06.13.14 at 9:00 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.
Position: Point guard
Weight: 175 pounds
Key 2013-14 stats: 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists
Scouting report: Napier, a Roxbury native, ended his collegiate career in spectacular fashion by winning his second national championship with UConn. Yet he’s only projected as a late first-round pick because of his small stature and limited upside.
A 40.5 percent 3-point shooter, Napier was one of the most dynamic and clutch scorers in college basketball last season. He gets his shots off so quickly and can score with a hand in his face, which bodes well for his potential in the pros. He can attack closeouts and pull up from mid-range, and he’s a fantastic ball-handler who can get anywhere with the ball.
But everything boils down to two things with Napier: his size and passing skills. Even though Napier battles hard on defense, he’s small, so he’s limited and will get burned by larger guards in the pros. This hinders his ability to start, as teams may be able to exploit him.
And Napier’s not exactly the most skilled passer, with a relatively average 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. He misses a lot of open teammates because he’s so focused on scoring, but it’s difficult to tell if he’s just a product of his environment (he’s told to score) or he’s actually unable to properly read the play. If it’s the latter, there are concerns about a coach’s ability to trust him running an offense.
Despite that, there’s a chance that Napier is being underrated by the masses, since elite scoring comes at a premium in the NBA. He was an elite college scorer, and his shooting will certainly translate to the pros. It may not matter that he might not be able to pass at a high level, because his role will be to come off the bench and score.
How he fits: Danny Ainge has employed a sparkplug scorer off the bench virtually every year in his tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations, and Napier could fill that role quite well as a pro.
CelticsBlog: Gunslingers of the future
Boston Globe: UConn’s Shabazz Napier proud to be from Roxbury
Video: Here is a video of Napier’s senior year highlights.