Draft Profiles: Shabazz Napier, 6’1, PG, UConn, 200 lbs., Senior

Draft Profiles: Shabazz Napier, 6’1, PG, UConn, 200 lbs., Senior

Athletic Ability

While not an elite athlete as a point guard, Napier is quick, shifty, has good lateral quickness, and good straight line speed.  He has quick hands, anticipates well, and surprised some with his vertical ability at the combine.   That said, he's not an explosive run/dunk athlete.


At the NBA level, Napier is below average for today’s NBA point guard.   Napier measured in at only 5'11 barefoot, 6'1 in shoes.  He's 175lbs and has a small wing span at 6'3. While at 6’1 and 175 pounds a little of the worry is that he only possesses a 6’3 wing-span which makes him short and light relative to his peers.   However,  Napier is feisty enough to hold his own at the next level.

Basketball IQ

Basketball-IQ wise, Napier is hot and cold when it comes to making the right basketball play.  At times, he shows a great understanding of seeing a play unfold or the knack for a spectacular find not many players might see.  Other times, Napier is caught trying to do too much and it hurt his team in spurts.   The key at the next level will be for Napier to know when to pick his spots and not get to overzealous when on a hot streak.


Skill-wise, Napier is very good offensively.  His greatest strength is playmaking.  He does well in terms of getting to his spot for a fade-away jumper, step-back jumper, or pass to a cutter or shooter.  If not using his great handles to get to his spot, Napier has a great 3 point shot as witnessed by shooting near 41% on over 5 attempts per game.

Defensively, Napier shows great anticipation and very quick hands and recorded nearly two steals per game.   He's also very quick laterally and is able to stop penetration from opposing point guards.  While only 6’1, Napier averaged a surprising 6 rebounds a game which is incredible given his average athleticism and height.

While Napier is feisty, sometimes he is overaggressive to the detriment of the team.  Several times, he would over-penetrate and either turn the ball over or shoot a terrible shot.  Defensively, Napier can be beat by overextending pressure too often.   His coach will either have to reign him in a bit or live with these rash decisions.

Overall Impression

Napier is the only player in this draft that has won two championships at the NCAA level.  Combined with his will, skill, and grit (Bulls favorite), he favors at his ceiling to Mike Bibby.  At his floor, Napier is a good backup point guard.

Some people might love his leadership ability as he challenges others.  At other times, his strong-willed flashes some immaturity.  Whichever team drafts him will have to take a risk knowing he could be a great pick or could be a headache.  While he has the chance to be a good point guard, his ceiling is limited.  I do feel he'll be a better point guard than the more explosive Elfrid Payton or solid Tyler Ennis.

At this point, Napier’s draft pick range might be from mid-first to late-first.  Based on his skill level, basketball smarts, and will,  he will be better than many players picked ahead of him.

Fit with Bulls

At pick 16, I feel Napier might be a little too high and we might have other needs to fill.  However, the Bulls need playmakers and at least a good backup option at point guard for Rose.  With Napier’s will and skill, I don’t doubt his ability to be at minimum a great off-the-bench option.

I just think unless the Bulls Front Office knows about other moves, that we might want to use our assets elsewhere.    I also feel the Bulls might look for a taller point guard to pair with Rose off the ball at times.


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  • Obviously I messed up on his weight for title. He is 175 lbs. - 200 is big for a 6'1 pg. I apologize!

  • In reply to kevinstates:

    At least you were consistent, since you messed up his height in the title also.

    Why does everyone feel that it is necessary to lie about how tall basketball players are. I have never in my life measured my height in shoes or quoted it as such. It is really annoying and foolish that this problem exists in the big business and the adult world of professional sports. As a result of this idiocy, everybody now has to add a qualifier/explanation to their height declarations, or we just automatically subtract 2 inches from everyone's stated height.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Everyone is measured in shoes - so he is 6'1 - that part is right. Are you saying I should report the height that he might play barefooted?

  • In reply to kevinstates:

    Everyone is also measured in their socks, so I guess that the NBA must think that they are going to play barefooted, at least according to the (il)logic of your defensive response.

    You might recognize the following, since you wrote it.

    "At the NBA level, Napier is below average for today’s NBA point guard. Napier measured in at only 5'11 barefoot, 6'1 in shoes".

    Why on earth would you even bother to include that information, do you expect him to play barefooted. Or as a matter of convenience you needed to emphasize your point that his height is below average for an NBA point guard so you included the smaller number.

    Finally, apparently, "everyone" is not measured in shoes.
    check out this link

    While every single player has a measurement listed under height without shoes(you know their actual/factual height) there are dozens of players that have no listing under height with shoes.

    So apparently all these players intend to play barefooted or maybe they won't be drafted because of this missing vital statistic, again according to the (il)logic of your response.

    I could go on and on, but it is obvious that your argument is factually incorrect as well as ludicrous on its merits.

    This part is right, or should I say correct

    Napier is 5'11" inches tall, and for those of you who think that this information helps you evaluate his future ability as an NBA player, he measured 6'1" in his shoes, which we assume are the very same shoes that he will play in as a professional basketball player.

    Thank God we are not drafting this guy, it might not be possible given current human technology to tell if he is taller or shorter than DJ

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I have never understood the reasoning why players' heights are measured with their shoes on. The standard response is that players "don't play barefoot." Gee, I'm glad they told me that as if I couldn't figure that out. The point is, IMHO, there is such a variance among players, depending on the type of shoe they wear, that measuring players with their shoes on can be misleading. It can lead to one player being considered more desirable on draft day just because he wears Nikes instead of Reeboks (for example).

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Thank you, even after watching the game for nearly 50 years and playing it for the 30 or so that I was healthy, I never knew that players "don't play barefoot" you know growing up in the suburbs of Chicago and all. Had I only known that I might have been tall enough to play in the NBA, geez, I shoulda had a V-8.

    You are absolutely correct about the shoe variance, just adding an additional inaccuracy to the process. Also, if the person doesn't qualify their stated height which one are they referring to(with or without), do we subtract 2 inches from it, do we add 2 inches to it, geez my head might explode, I better go put my shoes on, I think better when I'm taller.

  • Good review. Not much time to comment. While not on my short list(a few guys ahead of him), I would be excited if the Bulls drafted Shabazz Napier. I think attitude wise he's come a long ways. He can shoot threes, has some shake to get by defenders, and is a rebound and steals producer which bodes well for his future. His passing skills are unique/delivers the ball in a variety of ways. He's a leader in a good way most of the time. Don't ask me why, but I doubt Gar/Pax would draft Shabazz, but whoever does is getting a solid to good NBA player IMO. Also, he had pretty good numbers at the combine.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Yeah he should be pretty good - his attitude will be his main question. How good will he be also is a question. Some stuff in college will not translate - these loopy shots and shot jacking at inopportune times since he will most likely not be the go-to-scorer. However, he could be a starter or a backup depending on how he adjusts!

  • Bulls should not waste their time on this guy unless they are trading down or getting him in the second. At best, he's a backup PG. Take away the 6 games of the NCAA tourney and he's a late second rounder at best. UCONN was not that good all year and they just got hot and came together for a couple games.

    Yes, he won an NCAA title, but that is just one small factor in projecting NBA success.

  • In reply to Granby:

    It is more than 6 games I am measuring success. To me, it is more of his attitude that concerns me. How is he going to adjust not being the go-to-guy? It could be good or bad with his moxie!

  • In reply to kevinstates:

    Yes, not saying that you are only considering 6 games. Didn't mean that. I just meant that he's gotten a ton of press for winning the tourney. Same with the Harrison twins on KY... they sucked all year and the fact that UK nearly won should not influence their draft status. (If they were coming out...)

  • Do you prefer him to DJ (seems like they are about the same height) or Tyler Ennis who is mocked to go quite a bit higher.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Honestly, I would prefer other options likely available. D.J. is probably out of our price range if we get someone big. If not, I would just re-sign D.J. if he will take 3 mill or less (not likely). However, between Napier/Ennis, I think Napier provides more offense while Ennis probably runs a team better. On this team, I feel Napier is worth more.

  • Note to Doug

    Yesterday was the first and only day in the last 2 years that your proposed Bulls acquisition of Ben Gordon would have been a good idea, since Charlotte got Derrick Rose lucky in receiving Detroit's first this year at #9. Might even have allowed us to get Dario Saric. Don't know if that would have been worth suffering through 2 more years of his mope a dope act(now on steroids) or the $55 million or so it would have cost the Bulls, plus all the other players we wouldn't have been able to bring in as a result, and still be in line for the repeater tax and its consequences. But today we'd finally have something to be excited about, and the next couple of months would have been more fun to talk about.

  • Overall, I like Napier. I think he will be a good pro. I'd be surprised if the Bulls drafted him unless they are just looking for the cheaper option instead of DJ. Also heard (from realgm I think)that they are interested in Devin Harris. Don't know if there is any truth to that or not, but thought it was interesting. Back to Napier, he is another on my list of guys that I like, but don't think they would be a good fit. Like LaVine, Payne, Kyle Anderson, and McDaniels. I wouldn't be mad if the Bulls drafted any of these guys, but I just feel there are better options. A guy I'm really starting to fall in love with is Kristaps Porzingis. If they could draft him and let him wait for a year or two to build some muscle, I think he could be a real impact player. Great shot blocker, good with the ball, can shoot a little, good athlete. I think of him as somewhere between DeAndre Jordan and Chris Anderson with the potential to have a jump shot.

  • One guy that might become available due to the rise of others less his own failings is James Young, Kentucky. Plenty of areas need improvement, his field goal percentage is low due to high volume threes his 2pt % is 47 which while not great could rise as he refines his shot which is highly regarded. Not that unusual for a first year player who later finds success. He has a lot of potential as an NBA wing/scorer. But he's a development guy, and Thibs would never play him so probably not a good fit for the Bulls. Just interesting how some guys who are highly regarded drop in a deep draft simply due to the rise of others after the combine(numbers). I like him in interviews to he could be a nice pick up for somebody.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Probably a much higher ceiling than Shabazz - but of course, Napier has the sharper name! I also like Adams, but Young likely has higher potential than him.

    Bulls need to hit on a SG this draft! Or on a FA.

  • Hey, Kevin, despite my rant(s) from above, I appreciate and enjoy your contributions to this site every year at this time. This height measurement thing has been a pet peeve of mine like a pebble stuck in my shoe for as long as I've been a basketball fan. It's not personal(towards you) it is an institutional thing for me, and I'll never get over it, well maybe if I take enough xanax, or smoke as much pot as Noah does in the south of France.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's cool man!

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