Despite size, teams consider drafting Napier

Despite size, teams consider drafting Napier
May 15, 2014, 9:45 pm

CHICAGO — At 5-foot-11, Shabazz Napier does not have ideal height for an NBA point guard.

His 6-3 1/4 wing span helps, but that too isn't all that impressive.

When it comes to judging Napier's game, the numbers have never really added up for the Roxbury, Mass. native.

That's because what he lacks in size, he has managed to compensate for with big-time talent that's doused in unshakeable confidence.

And that has played a vital role in his success which includes leading UConn to a national championship this past March.

It is that will for winning that has a number of NBA teams with first-round picks thinking long and hard about whether he's the guy they want to draft despite some of his physical shortcomings.

"He's small, but here's the thing: he's a good pick-and-roll shooter, he's a mentally tough kid and he's at his best in down-to-the-wire games," said a league source whose team has a first-round pick in next month's draft. "He'll get his shot in the NBA, for sure."

But Napier knows that opportunity isn't likely to come as a member of his hometown team, the Boston Celtics.

Boston has a pair of first-round picks, with one being no worst than No. 8 and the other being the No. 17 overall pick.

Napier is expected to be on the board at No. 17, but Boston will likely use that pick to address another position of greater need.

That won't deter Napier who remembers his days as a youth when he pretended to be in tight, late-game situations while playing for his favorite team.

"Of course you had aspirations as a kid, knocking down that game-winning shot for your team," Napier said. "I probably had a lot of those game-winning shots for the Boston Celtics."

Making baskets under pressure at the end of games has become a significant part of Napier's identity.

That's why he believes teams should put an even greater premium on adding players whose track record includes a high level of success.

"It should be ranked number one," Napier said. "At the end of the day, it (winning) gets you whatever you want. It gets you (championship) rings. It gets you more fans, and gets you everything ... the team needs. Certain guys know how to win. Certain guys understand what to do at certain times of the game and that's win."