Nets draft preview: Shabazz Napier

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Brooklyn does not have a pick, but general manager Billy King has said he is interested in trading into the draft if a player they like is available. Here is one who could entice them to trade for a late first-round or second-round pick.


HEIGHT: 6-foot-1


THE 411: Napier doesn’t have size, but he does have plenty of heart. The confident playmaker won national championships in both his freshman and senior seasons, carrying the Huskies during the latter. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player in 2013-14, averaging 21.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game during UConn’s six-game run. Napier is a proficient 3-point shooter. In fact, his percentage rose in each of his four seasons (32.6, 35.5, 39.8, 40.5).

FORD PROJECTION: According to ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford, Napier is projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick. He ranks 22nd on Ford’s list of top 100 prospects.

FORD’S REPORT: Napier has a lot of fans and a lot of skeptics. The fans point out that Napier is the most NBA-ready point guard in the draft, a fearless player who can both shoot and defend. The skeptics point to his lack of size and age, and question whether he has the physical attributes to play in the NBA. His range right now starts at No. 19 to the Bulls and likely ends with the Clippers at No. 28.

WHY SHOULD THE NETS TRADE TO PICK HIM: The Nets could be in need of a backup point guard should they lose Shaun Livingston in free agency. They’re obviously different players, but Napier is a guy who could provide instant energy/offense off the bench. He’s a four-year college player, so his game is a lot more polished than some of the younger kids in the draft. Napier has been a winner, and he has intangible qualities that can't be taught.