2014 NBA Draft: Houston Rockets Should Target Shabazz Napier
The Houston Rockets’ biggest position of need is at point guard, and it’s something that the team will likely address this coming offseason.
Right now, the Rockets have three point guards on the roster: Patrick Beverley (who will make $915,000 in 2014-15 if/when the Rockets pick up his option), Jeremy Lin (who will make $15 million in salary and $8.3 million against the cap in 2014-15 if the Rockets don’t move him) and Isaiah Canaan (who is locked up through the 2015-16 season for less than $1 million each year).
If Houston is going to try to sign Chandler Parsons to an extension and/or make a run at Carmelo Anthony this summer, it’s likely that the team will look into moving its embattled backup point guard (Lin).
If the Rockets decide to move Lin, they’ll need another point guard to push Canaan for the backup job behind Beverley, and who better than the man who led the University of Connecticut to a national title this past season, Shabazz Napier?
Houston’s general manager Daryl Morey has shown the propensity to draft four-year college players (Parsons and Canaan both played four years of college ball), so Napier will likely be on his radar this June.
To me there isn’t much that separates former UConn star and current up-and-coming Charlotte Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker from Napier. Yes, Walker probably had better range with his three-point shot coming out of college, but both guys flaunted fantastic intangibles in college (leadership, grit, relentlessness), which are hard to find in today’s one-and-done generation.
For some strange reason, most mock drafts have Napier getting picked late in the first round or very early in the second round. The 2014 NBA Draft is loaded with talent (not top heavy, but unbelievably deep), but I have a hard time believing no team picking in the early 20s or late teens will bite on Napier (particularly the Chicago Bulls, who own two picks in that range). However, Houston has capitalized on the incompetence of other team’s front offices in the past (snagging Parsons in the second round comes to mind), so I can see a scenario where Napier slips to Houston.
The bottom line is that the Rockets need to make several major personnel decisions in the summers of 2014 and 2015, so having another point guard locked up for four years with a reasonable contract will help make Morey’s job a little easier.