The Miami Heat have only one pick (no. 26) going into the 2014 NBA Draft. Up until the draft day, All U Can Heat will preview a list of potential prospects that the Heat have worked out or are rumored to be interested in.
Name: Shabazz Napier College: Connecticut Projected Position: Point Guard Age: 22 Height: 6’ 1” (in shoes) Wingspan: 6’ 10.75” Weight: 175 pounds
Versatile Jump Shooter – Most of Shabazz’s offense is generated through his jump shot, and he can get it off in a multitude of ways. Napier excellent in isolation, where he rocks defenders to sleep with his isolation dribble and can pull up from either three or long-two distance. Napier is also an excellent catch and shoot scorer off pick and roll action. Excellent Handle – Napier’s dribbling allows him to get to anywhere on the court. His go-to is the hesi-dribble combined which his quick first step that catches the defender flat-footed, especially when the defense switches coming off a pick-and-roll. His handle is good enough to get him to the basket through traffic where he is willing to drive-and-kick or dump it off to a big man inside. Toughness – He’s tough both mentally and physically. He stuck with UConn through their postseason suspension when it might have been easier just to transfer. In the literal sense, Napier durable for his size. He isn’t an excellent finisher at the rim, but Shabazz uses his body and ball fakes to create contact and draw fouls quite well. Mature - Went through some ups and downs at UConn. Napier single-handedly led the Huskies to their improbable championship run in 2014. He’ll be able to contribute to an NBA team right away.
Decision Making – Napier can be careless with the ball at times, forcing passes that just aren’t there. He struggles hitting the roll man in pick-and-roll situations. Shabazz also has a tendency to take contested jump shots early in the shot clock. Time-and-score situations will be something that his NBA team will work on with him right away. He’s also overly reliant on his jump shot (73% of his total shots). Size – He’s an undersized scoring guard just under 6′ 0″ without shoes. There will be nights when he’s matched up with someone who’s 5-6 inches tall than he is. Can he get his jump shot off against quick, rangy point guards? Explosiveness – Shabazz isn’t not an explosive athlete. His jumping ability is below average and he struggles to finish inside because of it. Napier can be quick in areas, but he’s not explicitly fast. There are NBA point guards who are both bigger and quicker than he is, and they’ll play him tight, forcing him to go to the rim instead to picking his jumpers. Inconsistent Defense – Napier has the ability to be a solid NBA team defender one day, but he isn’t completely dialed in defensively at the moment. After a few rotations, Shabazz tends to stand up straight and will get blown by off the dribble with shaky closeout technique. His defensive problems manifest from the combination of the offensive load that he had to carry at UConn, and simply a lack of focus to play defense through the entirety of the shot clock.
Fit With Heat
From an intangibles standpoint, Shabazz Napier is a great fit with the Heat. He’s ready to play right away in the NBA, and we know after this past March that he’s not afraid of big situations. And um, lets just say that, free agency wise, Mario Chalmers didn’t help his own cause this postseason, so point guard is definitely an area where Miami will try to improve over the offseason.
From a skills standpoint, Shabazz and the Heat are close, but not exactly a perfect match. One of the biggest difference between this season’s Heat team and previous years’ was a dip in their perimeter defense. Shabazz isn’t there yet defensively, but he has the physical tools to become a solid defender if he wants to be. Offensively, Napier obviously wouldn’t have to carry the same burden that he did with the Huskies. He can play without it, but Shabazz is really most comfortable with the ball in his hands. Napier will most likely become a combo guard in the NBA. It will come down to whether the Heat want to pick up a guard through the draft or free agency. Rookie wise, there probably wont be a better point guard than Napier waiting for Miami at no. 26.