As a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, Shabazz Napier grew up as a Boston Celtics fan and he was lucky enough to workout for the team on Monday. He discussed the adversity he's been through, but also how he has the heart of a champion -- literally, since he led the Connecticut Huskies to the 2014 National Championship title.
"I just have the heart that a lot of guys with those attributes don’t have. You put me in front of anybody I’m going to compete," said Napier. "That’s the biggest thing that I have gotten since I was younger. I was always the littlest guy. Those are the things I can’t worry about; just be myself. There are a lot of guys with those attributes that can’t lead a team like I can. There’s always a reason for something; I’m definitely happy I can lead a team."
Besides heart, what else does Napier bring as a player? To preview my 2014 NBA Draft Guide, here is my full scouting report of Napier.
The full guide is available with 60 player profiles just like this; if you'd like to name your price and purchase the guide: click here or click the image to the right to find out more details. If the words on the image below are difficult to read, then click the scouting report itself to bring it into full screen mode.
What Others Are Saying
"Shabazz is so clever and shifty. He is very hard to stay in front of because he really changes directions very well. He's quick, but he is even shiftier than he is quick. And he can make shots. Shabazz is not physically overwhelming but he has toughness, intelligence, and skill, and that extra savvy, so he more than makes up for it. He's going to 'make it' is my guess; he's a good player." -- Austin Ainge, Boston Celtics Director of Player Personnel
Should Boston Draft Napier?
I have long been an advocate for "sparkplug" guards off the bench, perhaps because I have been conditioned to value those players as a fan of the Celtics. For years Danny Ainge has employed sparkplugs and Shabazz Napier certainly fits that mold. He is obviously a dynamic scorer who can fill it up in bunches, but he can also do it extremely efficiently because of his ability to score from anywhere on the court.
However, I'm not convinced that drafting Napier at #17 is the right choice; while he'd certainly fill a team need and he has the upside to be something better than a bench player, I'd like to see Boston go another direction if they stay at that spot. Maybe trading down a few slots to #20 while picking up a second round draft pick would put them in a much preferred position if Napier is the true target.
Despite saying that, I can't help but think that draft evaluators including myself could possibly be underrating Napier. I have him ranked as my 29th player on my big board and even I question how I can have such a lethal scorer so low on the list. He's able to get anywhere he wants with the ball and the spread style of the NBA could help open up even more space for him, so getting off his shot shouldn't really be a problem. The main problem is his size, but time and time again smaller players have been able to score in the pros when they're able to compensate with elite ball handling skills.
If Napier is the pick, he would fit seamlessly into Brad Stevens' system; with the ability to work on or off-ball, he is an ideal fit for the motion offense. Napier is not a spectacular passer, but he can make the right play when he it is expected of him. On the defensive end, he will be unable to switch onto most guards, but he is a feisty man-to-man defender who can stay on the court despite being undersized.