Today the sports rumor mill is churning out a story of LeBron James pushing the Miami Heat to make a trade to pick Shabazz Napier in tomorrow’s NBA draft. Color me skeptical. Why would Miami reach for a prospect who appears to be an average NBA point guard?
The knocks on Shabazz are: he’s undersized at 6’1” and he’s an older prospect at nearly twenty-three years old.
Shabazz played all four years at the University of Connecticut. From 2005 to 2014 only eleven players who played four years in college made it to the NBA all-star game. That is compared to nineteen for three year players, fifteen for two year plays and thirteen for one year players. The best current player to play four years in college is all-time great Tim Duncan, but the next best current player who attended four years of college is David West.
The risk of drafting an undersized, four year college player is too great, especially to move up the draft board for.
How much of an upgrade would Napier be over the guards the Heat used last season? The largest skill deficiency in Miami’s guard position was defense. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole can pass and run an offense, but their lack of length made for mismatches with the league’s premier guards. Napier too, is too short to be an above average defender and will likely be a defensive liability.
Shabazz Napier and Norris Cole have many similarities too. When Cole entered the NBA, he was just under twenty-three years old, undersized and played four years of college basketball.
So why would the Miami Heat trade for a slightly shorter and less athletic version of a player they already have on the roster?