In our look at players who may be drafted by the Bulls, we profile point guard Shabazz Napier.
Napier measures in at 6’1″ and weighs 175 pounds. He helped lead the UCONN Huskies to two NCAA championships in his four years there.
With both D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich both being free agents, the Bulls should be in the market for someone to play backup point guard to Derrick Rose. Napier’s talents should give him a solid 10-year career as a backup point guard.
Napier is another player in the draft that will be hurt because he stayed in school. Doing that, however, has helped him get NBA-ready. He has refined his game, and his leadership skills have grown.
Playing under head coach Kevin Ollie-himself a former NBA player-has really helped his game. “Ollie is super helpful. The best thing you can do is pick his brain. He had a lot of ups and downs but he never let that deter him as a person. He understood what his role was and never tried to get out of that role. He did his best to push everybody and when he got in games he gave everything he had.”
Staying in college for four years, Napier feels his knowledge of the game gives him an advantage over some of the younger kids who have declared after one year. “My knowledge of the game is my upside,” he said at the NBA combine in Chicago. “I could actually come in an NBA game right now and have an impact. I don’t think a lot of folks could do that, their knowledge of the game is not what mine is.”
In his college career, Napier averaged solid 17 points per game per-40 minutes, grabbing 5 rebounds, dishing out 5.6 assists and getting 2.2 steals.
Some feel that Napier’s height will hurt him defensively, but he has good, quick feet, and his work ethic is off the chart. He can be one of those pesky defenders that the better athletes hate to have to play against.
“I am not going to grow three inches tomorrow,” Napier said. “If I did I would love it. I am just a basketball player who is trying to lead his team and trying to win games. There are a lot of point guards who have height but are not capable of doing the things I am capable of doing. I can’t worry about the things I can’t control.”
Napier would be Tom Thibodeau’s dream player.
In the NBA, Shabazz Napier will not be a star, but he understands that. He knows he has to play full-out every game if he wants to have a long career. “The one thing I can control is my effort.” As long as he keeps that effort up, he could be a valuable asset to the Chicago Bulls.