5 Questions: SB Nation's The UConn Blog on Shabazz Napier

Howard Smith/USA Today

We wanted to know more about the Heat's prized rookie, so we turned to the experts at The UConn Blog. Special thanks to Matt Ouimette for answering our questions and Aman Kidwai for his assistance.

1) What is the skill set that attracted the Heat so much to Shabazz? They certainly made their intentions known before the Draft that they coveted him. Same goes for LeBron, who repeatedly praised him.


LeBron is a winner, and winners recognize winners. In a draft class full of promising talent, Shabazz Napier is the lone proven winner. Not only did he win, he won with an essentially non existent supporting cast. Under the tutelage of LeBron and D-Wade the sky is the limit for Napier. In terms of a specific skill set I think the most important factor is his NBA-readiness. Shabazz can come in and contribute immediately whereas a lot of the younger guards will need time to develop.

2) Why do you think Shabazz was the last player in the Green Room? His stock had risen of course to the point that he got an invite there from the NBA for a reason but other point guards ultimately were taken before him. What concerns would other teams have had about him?


I don't think the fact that he was the last player in the Green Room is a byproduct of other teams concerns about him. Other PG's Exum, Payton, Smart and Ennis all have incredible upside and will appease the fans. Lottery picks face incredible scrutiny and some teams would rather take a chance on an exciting young prospect than make the safe selection. The Heat needed a PG who can contribute immediately and there was only one clear selection from that group.

3) What parts of his game truly are NBA-ready and what does he need to work on?


NBA Ready: Ball handling, passing, shooting, on ball defense, rebounding
Shabazz is an incredible on ball defender whose quickness is rarely matched. His ball handling, passing and shooting were on display throughout the NCAA tournament but he is an undervalued rebounder who crashes the boards fearlessly given his small stature.


Work on: While Shabazz is an incredible on ball defender there were times last season where he was lost on defense. He needs to continue to work on his help defense and not taking possessions off. Also, while he matured each season in college he needs to continue to hone his leadership skills which obviously comes with time. With maturity will come a decrease in turnovers which at times were an issue (ie forcing a pass in transition, throwing an ill advised alley oop).

4) Is he the kind of point guard that suits the Miami Heat? How should they maximize his talents?


Bazz is perfect for the Heat. It is easy for me to picture him picking an opposing guards pocket and dishing to LeBron James for a powerful transition dunk already. Napier makes the winning plays which will translate well to a team as accustomed to winning as the Heat are. He also is a magician in transition and who better to work with than Lebron, D Wade and Ray Allen? If the Heat loosen the chains and let Bazz make the plays he is capable of making there will be more championships in the near future. I am excited to see what Bazz will do with the Heat.

5) Down the road, do you see him being starter-material or would he work better on the Heat as someone who can lead the second unit and look for his shot a little more?


Down the road I absolutely see Shabazz as starter material. Bazz is at his best when he is not looking for his own shot but instead getting teammates involved. On a roster as loaded as the Heat, Shabazz could easily average double digit assists. At UConn he was forced to handle the scoring load and run the team. In the NBA this will not be the case and Shabazz will flourish as a PG. I see him transitioning into a starting role in less than two years.

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