The NBA Draft Combine, a two day event held last week in Chicago, gives top NBA prospects a platform to showcase their skill set for NBA GM’s and scouts through a variety of drills and measurements. Let’s take a look at how Shabazz Napier’s numbers fared against other top point guards prospects.
Top Point Guards: Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Dante Exum (Australia), Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette), Shabazz Napier (UCONN), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)
On the advice of his agent, Napier opted to skip the basketball drills portion of the combine. In fact, none of the top point guard prospects participated in the drills. While some questioned the decision of Payton who received little national exposure at Louisiana-Lafayette, Napier’s season was well chronicled and his decision received no negative backlash. Other top players who did not participate included Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Michigan State’s Gary Harris.
Below I have compiled a comparison of Napier’s top competitors at the combine, as well as Kemba Walker’s measurements from the 2011 NBA Draft Combine. While Napier lacks the height and wingspan coveted by scouts, his 37.5 inch max vertical answered questions of explosiveness and was arguably the most surprising/impressive measurement of the day. If you look closely, Napier’s measurements are nearly identical to those of Walker, the 9th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft.
|Player||Height (shoes)||Weight||Wingspan||Max Vertical|
|Ennis||6-2 1/2||182||6-7 1/4||36|
|Smart||6-3 1/4||227||6-9 1/4||36|
|Walker (2011)||6-1||184||6-3 1/2||39.5|
In the 3/4 court sprint Napier finished second among point guards (3.2 seconds), barely edged out by Exum (3.19).
Stock: Up or Down?
Up. Napier’s small stature has been noted by scouts in the past so his measurements came with little shock. As I mentioned above, the real shocker was Napier’s vertical, an astounding 37.5 inches- the same as former Husky flyer Ben Gordon*. In years past, Napier was knocked for his immaturity and scouts worried about his ability to lead an NBA team. This past season put those doubts at ease after Napier not only elevated his play, but also the play of his supporting cast en route to his second National Championship. Napier is the most NBA-ready point guard prospect in the draft, the type of player who could immediately contribute minutes as a back up. Yes, Napier will be competing against NBA sized guards every night, but, if you take a look at his track record -most recently the Harrison twins/James Young of Kentucky- Napier is a competitor and competitors are not discouraged by a couple of inches. As Napier said of himself, “Certain guys know how to win, certain guys understand what to do at certain times of the game and that’s kind of rare.” In a league where success is defined by championships, Shabazz Napier is a proven winner.
*This number is even more astounding considering Napier did not complete a dunk in his four years at UCONN.
According to scouts present at the combine, Napier’s performance solidified a first round selection. Here are some possible destinations that stand out:
- 17th pick, Boston Celtics: Hometown kid on the hometown team is always an inspiring story line.
- 26th pick, Miami Heat: LeBron tweeted: “No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.” Starting point guard Mario Chalmers is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, if Napier were still available you know who LeBron wants…
- 28th pick, Los Angeles Clippers: Current backup Darren Collison has a player option for next season. Like Collison, Napier is a pesky defender who would benefit under the tutelage of Chris Paul while he develops.