Editor’s Note: As we get closer to the draft, it’s time to talk about possible draft picks for the Hornets. Over the next month, we will preview guys that could end up going to the Hornets at either picks number 9, 24, or 45, culminating in two mock drafts. Also during this time span, we will preview other options the Hornets have such as trading picks or available free-agents. Stick with us for original analysis and predictions all summer long!
Player Essentials: Shabazz Napier
Strengths: Shabazz Napier can flat out score the basketball. Averaging 18.0 points per game in his senior year at Connecticut, Napier has the distinct ability to hit off of the dribble, pull-up in traffic, and drive by bigger defenders when challenged. Also, while Napier is by no means a fantastic outside shooter, he will make teams pay if left open beyond the arc, shooting over 40% from three over the course of his senior year.
Napier is also a very capable passer who can setup fantastic scoring opportunities for his teammates. While an average of 4.9 assists per game last season in college certainly isn’t staggering, on tape it is clear that Napier will have what it takes to make plays for his teammates at the next level.
Finally, I love that Napier won a national championship with UConn, as did Kemba Walker. If drafted by the Hornets, Kemba and Napier will likely fit nicely together as teammates, only improving the team’s already strong chemistry.
On tape, it is clear that Napier occasionally will struggle with his shot selection and decision making. When watching him in games last season, sometimes Napier would take low-percentage shot instead of feeding his big-men. At the next level, the UConn product will have to look for his teammates more often.
In addition, Napier frequently struggles against dribble-penetration attacks from opposing guards, leading many to question his defensive abilities. This issue might be even more obvious at the next level, but Napier will still be a defensive upgrade over Luke Ridnour if drafted by Charlotte.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I love Napier as an option for the Hornets with the 24th overall pick in this year’s draft. While his shot-selection is occasionally questionable, he will be able to make an instant impact in Charlotte as the team’s backup point guard. Also, at 22 years of age, Napier is fully developed physically which means he will likely be effective as soon as he walks onto an NBA court. I certainly hope to see him playing behind Kemba Walker in the purple and teal next season.
Lead Hornets Writer: Jonathon Hoppe