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Portland's most Undervalued, Underappreciated, and Underused point guard.

Portland's most Undervalued, Underappreciated, and Underused point guard.

This season, Shabazz Napier has shown that he is underrated, and someone who could be a good starting point guard in the NBA.

The 24th overall pick in 2014 spent time in Miami as the fifth option on the court. He then headed to Orlando where he played just 10 minutes a game.

Napier landed in Portland last season, and has proven that he can carry the load of an offence better than the public perception believes during his tenure on the Blazers, who have allowed him to showcase his talent.

When C.J McCollum and Damian Lillard are both off the court, Napier is the man who’s number is called. His usage rate climbs all the way up to 30.5 percent - higher than all star point guards Stephen Curry and John Wall.

 

The former NCAA champion at Connecticut has put this usage rate to good use.

Napier has averaged 21.9 points, 6.4 assists and 2 steals per 36 minutes over a 185 minute sample, while posting an incredible 59.7 true shooting percentage (TS%). The point totals are elite, and this TS% tops Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and Victor Oladipo. All five of these guys are all stars.

Napier has also been an effective floor spacer for the Blazers, shooting 38 percent on threes.

With the league placing an emphasis on three point shooting, Napier has shown he can be a guy who can play off the ball and knock down open threes to compliment his excellent on ball defense.

 

The sharpshooter also really boosts up the offence when playing with Damian Lillard. The Blazers have a 122.8 offensive rating when they share the court. For comparison, the NBA leading Houston Rockets have an offensive rating of 113.

Napier is also present in four of the five highest rated offensive lineups based on offensive rating for the Blazers.

One could argue that Napier’s success is due to facing the opponent’s bench and playing garbage time quite often.

But he also has never proven he can put up numbers over longer stretches of playing time. Napier has averaged 17 points, four rebounds and four assists along with two steals in seven starts. Last season, he averaged 28 points per game in his two starts.

While the sample size is small and he only averages 9 points and 2 assists overall, this would make Napier’s next contract cheaper, and therefore a higher chance at being a steal if the sample continues.

NBA teams should look Napier’s way this off-season based on his success as the primary option, his ability to floor space, and his constant appearance in some of the highest rated five man units for Portland.

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