During tonight’s national championship game between Kentucky and UConn, you’ll hear a great deal about how the Wildcats start five freshmen and play two more, along with how all seven are considered solid NBA prospects. At the same time, you’ll probably also hear how UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier is the best player on the floor. But you probably won’t hear that Napier is considered a top NBA prospect. Why?
In most mock drafts, Napier is slotted to be drafted late in the first round. Make no mistake, getting drafted by an NBA franchise is an amazing accomplishment. But if Napier is considered the best player on the floor amongst a handful of other “top” prospects, why is he not expected to be taken higher?
Two reasons – age and size.
Napier is 22 years old, which means that NBA teams will be forfeiting a three-year age difference if they opt to draft him rather than a stud freshman. But the bigger issue is his size. Napier stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds. Though he has a bevy of offensive moves at his disposal, he’ll be at a significant size disadvantage against NBA teams that boast point guards standing 6-foot-4 or taller. Napier is quick enough to compete in the pros, but what happens five years down the road when he’s lost his speed? He’s the type of player who will be able to make an immediate impact on a good team. But he’s probably not going to have the longevity that struggling teams are looking for.
Regardless of tonight’s result, Napier has proved to the basketball world that he is a winner. He has a knack for closing out games and making the right play in crunch time. That will certainly count for something among NBA scouts. But win or lose, he can’t improve his draft stock too much.