Where will UConn’s Shabazz Napier be drafted?

Shabazz Napier will find out his NBA fate on Thursday. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Shabazz Napier will find out his NBA fate on Thursday. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

With the NBA Draft just two days away, we wanted to take a look at the most likely destinations for UConn point guard Shabazz Napier and small forward DeAndre Daniels, who will both hear their names called before the end of the night.

Napier has been critiqued for his lack of size (6-1) and athleticism, but his straight-out basketball skill, as he showcased in the NCAA Tournament, should be enough to earn him a first-round selection.

Below are the most likely destinations for Napier in round 1, based on NBA team need. Daniels predictions coming soon.

Pick 12–<a href=''  title='Magic receive Nuggets 2014 first round pick (or Knicks pick, whichever is less favorable)'  class='mock_team_link'><strong>*Orlando</strong></a> Orlando has two first-round draft choices and is looking for a point guard, but may fill that position when they pick at No. 4, as highly-touted prospects Dante Exum (6-6, Australia) and Marcus Smart (6-3, Oklahoma State) will likely be available. That would leave them out of the point guard market when they pick at No. 12.

The Bulls could use Shabazz's jumper at No. 16. (AP Photo)

The Bulls could use Shabazz and his jumper at No. 16. (AP Photo)

Pick 16– <strong>Chicago</strong>Chicago is reportedly very interested in Shabazz at No. 16, though they also have interest in Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton, who is bigger (6-4) and more athletic.

Chicago would be a nice fit, because he could learn from veterans Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, and would easily replace D.J. Augustin on the depth chart. If the chronically injured Rose can’t stay on the court, Napier could get an opportunity to start in his rookie season.

Pick 17–<a href=''  title='Celtics receive less favorable 2014 first-round pick and of Hawks and Nets. Hawks have right to swap 2014 first round picks with Nets.'  class='mock_team_link'><strong>*Boston</strong></a>Boston. Napier’s most preferred destination might be Boston, considering the fact that he grew up in Roxbury and is a lifelong Celtics fan.

The C’s own two first round picks, at No. 6 and No. 17. But unless Boston trades Rajon Rondo, Napier would probably be better off ending up in a place where he can compete for the starting job right away.

Pick 20– <strong>Toronto</strong>Toronto has been rumored to be interested in Napier at No. 20. Their current point guard and best player, Kyle Lowry, is an unrestricted free agent and will hit the open market this July.

The Raptors are expected to try and re-sign him, and they also have a restricted free agent at point in Greivis Vasquez. Still, Raps G.M. Masai Ujiri may opt to let one of them go and draft Napier, who would likely see immediate playing time.

Pick 21– <a href=''  title='Thunder receive Mavericks 2014 first-round pick. Top 20 protected 2014-2017, unprotected in 2018'  class='mock_team_link'><strong>*Oklahoma Cty</strong></a> Oklahoma City just lost veteran backup point guard and new Knicks coach Derek Fisher, so the Thunder may look to add another point guard late in the first round.

OKC has a great relationship with UConn head coach Kevin Ollie, as they wanted him to take a job in their front office before he left for Storrs, so there is a connection here.

Still, the Thunder have other pressing needs (like another scorer to go with Westbrook and Durant), and may opt to pursue a player that can be a viable third scoring option.

Pick 23– <a href=''  title='Jazz receive the Warriors 2014 first-round pick.'  class='mock_team_link'><strong>*Utah</strong></a> Utah picks at No. 23, and even though it took Michigan point guard Trey Burke at No. 9 last season, the Jazz might be interested in Napier if he falls this far.

Pick 25–<strong>Houston</strong>Houston. The Rockets aren’t in love with Jeremy Lin (even though they’re paying him like they wifed him up), and Patrick Beverly isn’t a long-term solution at the point, though head coach Kevin McHale has said he likes Beverly’s defense.

Pick 26– <strong>Miami</strong>Miami. If the Heat want to keep LeBron and Napier falls this far, they’ll draft him here. OK–maybe that’s taking things a little too far, but King James has spoken publicly about how much he’d like to see Napier in a Heat uniform, and tweeted that Shabazz should be the first point guard taken in the draft.

Miami is in desperate need of some help at the point, especially after a dreadful performance from former starter Mario Chalmers in the NBA Finals. If he’s still there, the Heat will seriously consider Napier at No. 26, and it might even be a surprise if they didn’t take him.

Pick 30–<strong>San Antonio</strong> San Antonio. It’s a long shot–because he probably won’t be around–but there’s no doubt that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich likes winning players, and he’s hinted that Napier would be a good fit with the Spurs. This might be the best possible outcome for Shabazz, because even though falling to the bottom of the first round would hurt, he couldn’t end up with a better organization.


AP Photo. Graphic by: Nick Napoletano

How’s this look, Bulls fans? (AP Photo. Graphic by: Nick Napoletano)

OUR PREDICTION: <strong>Chicago</strong> The Bulls grab Shabazz at No. 16. Chicago has other pressing needs-namely someone who can put the ball in the freaking basket, but the Bulls’ point guard play in the absence of Rose was abhorrent. It would be smart for the Bulls to take a young, talented player like Napier who will fit into the system well and help get the offense organized.

For Shabazz, it’d be a nice fit–if Rose is healthy, he wouldn’t have too much pressure on him, and could learn the NBA ropes behind a slew of veterans and one of the league’s best coaches (New Britain’s own Tom Thibodeau).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *