Projected Position: PG
Hometown: Roxbury, MA
Side Notes: Napier is the most experienced player in this draft. A two-time NCAA Champion (2011,2014) and was also the “Final Four Most Outstanding Player” this year. Other awards include: AAC Player of the Year (2014), First-Team All-AAC in 2014, also for the Big East in 2013, 2011 Big East Tournament Champion, and voted to the All-American team (2014). Played with these current NBA Players at UCONN: Jeremy Lamb, Andre Drummond, and Kemba Walker. The point guard had a remarkable senior season; averaging 18 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 4.9 APG.
Strengths: An excellent three-point shooter, let alone he has proved he has NBA range. Napier shot .405% from behind the arc his senior season. Excellent ball-handling skills; not afraid of defensive pressure. Rebounds very well considering his size (6’1). His biggest strength is being able to create plays for himself and teammates off the dribble. Also is capable of being a lethal distributor in the NBA. While he was seen as a selfish player, Napier averaged about 4.7 assists in his junior and senior season (5.8 his sophomore year). Doesn’t shy away from bigger players, also has the ability to drive to the rim and finish. Knows how to get to the free-throw line. Napier shot .870% from the line his senior season. Very active on the defensive side of the ball; averaged about 2 steals per game in his last two seasons (1.9). Doesn’t fold in the big moments. If you’re looking for the player who can hit the big shot… This is your guy.
Weaknesses: Size. His small frame of 6’1 and 180 doesn’t translate well on the NBA level. Turnover prone. While he averaged almost 5 assists, he averaged about 3 turnovers a game his senior season (2.9). Athleticism is a problem. Hasn’t proved that he can keep up with the “run and gun” point guards; like Russell Westbrook. His basketball I.Q is suspect. Poor court vision; too often misses the open man or mismatches. Will have a hard time driving to rim against shot blockers.
NBA Player Comparison: J.J Barea, Patrick Beverly
Summary: While Napier is expected to be an early second round pick; he could easily be the steal of the draft. Expect him to be a back-up point guard in the NBA. With Kirk Hinrich’s and D.J Augustin’s future with Chicago being cloudy, you could see Napier being a choice for Chicago with one of their two first-round picks. I compared him to J.J Barea because he could produce instant offense off the bench, something that Chicago lacks. Both Napier and Barea don’t fit the mold of an athletic point guard, but nonetheless are effective. Napier’s weaknesses are a major hazard, but his offensive game is lethal and you can’t look past his experience. Below is a video of Napier’s highlights. Sorry about the music.