UConn's star point guard Shabazz Napier really entered the limelight when he continued to rise to the occasion with big moments throughout the tournament. Shabazz won two college championships with the UConn Huskies in 2011 as well as 2014. In 2011 he was selected to the Big East All Rookie team. In 2014, he was named the tournament's most outstanding player. Connecticut, led by Shabazz Napier, finished the 2014 season 32-8 overall. Napier averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 87 percent at the line and 41 from three point land.
There is no question the six foot senior is quite the fearless competitor.
Napier's demonstrated significant improvement in offensive efficiency since entering college (Rookie to senior numbers; FG: 37% to 43%, 3P: 33% to 41%, FT: 77% to 87%). His step-back proved to be deadly throughout the tournament, as did his ability to shift speeds with the ball. Perhaps most notable of all, Napier's confidence is through the roof. Much like Rondo, playing the toughest opponents (especially in crunch time) brings about the best in Napier, and he doesn't shy away from making the play:
Again, the kid is just cold-blooded:
As a senior, Napier grew to become more of a distributor. His on-ball defense is strong and his willingness to hit the deck for loose balls is top-notch.
Nevertheless, Shabazz is not without flaws. Like Rondo, his maximum effectiveness requires the ball in his hands, sometimes eating up the shot clock. He is not nearly as athletic as some of the flashy names in this draft, and his relatively meager size (about 6'1 with a 6'3 wingspan, 180 lbs) may limit his abilities (especially on the defensive end) as a pro. Amongst a lot of 19 and 20 year old prospects, Shabazz turns 23 on July 14.
It's tough to predict where Shabazz will be selected in the draft. His stock has been on the rise since day one as a senior, and in the tournament, it skyrocketed. The chances of him ending up in green as it currently stands are somewhat slim. He's projected to go somewhere in the range of about 20-28, and it may be a bit of a reach for the Celtics to use their no. 17 pick on a back-up (if Rondo's still around) point guard with so many other needs. Nevertheless, with the limitless possibilities of what may happen come draft night (exchange for Love, exchange of Rondo, exchange of picks, etc.) the Celtics could feasibly wind up with a pick that brings in Shabazz Napier. It would almost seem right, as we've touched on Napier's professed love for his home-town green.
Napier's combine interview, discussing players he studies, his eagerness to play and more:
Austin Gill 6/21/2014 10:30:00 AM Tweet