by Will Overton
In the last five games the Miami Heat have played Shabazz Napier has scored in double digits in all of them. Napier has averaged 12.8 PPG and made 2.4 3PG in those most recent five games while shooting 54% from the field.
For fantasy owners the question you need to answer before running out and grabbing him is what has prompted this and how much of this success can last? Shabazz Napier has looked great in these last five games, but are you prepared to drop someone off your bench to add him, that depends on those first two questions.
The rise of the rookie has been prompted largely by injuries. Dwayne Wade has been out for all five of these games from Napier and Norris Cole has been sidelined for the last two. Opportunity is how guys go from the bench to big roles on teams and Napier has certainly been making the most of his opportunity.
But does it all just go away when Wade and Cole are healthy again? Clearly when Wade is healthy he is going to take back over at shooting guard. The bigger question is whether or not Napier has done enough to unseat Norris Cole as the first guard off the bench.
When you look at the two of them it seems to me that Cole is the superior ball handler. He doesn’t turn the ball over nearly as much as Napier does (3.6 TO in his last five games) and he distributes the ball better. This is going to make it hard for Napier to unseat Cole.
What Napier has going for him is the fact that he is a more dynamic player and a much bigger weapon offensively. Right now the Miami Heat are 20th in the league in points scored per game and they need offense anywhere they can get it. The combination of Chalmers and Napier or Wade and Napier might be more appealing to the Heat.
Cole is the better playmaker, but when Wade is healthy and on the court he has the ball in his hands a good portion of the time. Mario Chalmers has also developed as a playmaker. So I think Napier may be a better fit in order to give the Heat a boost.
Napier won’t continue to average 27 minutes per game as he has been recently. But for the time being he will, and then when Wade comes back I think he could still see 18 – 20 MPG. Even in that he’ll push double digits in scoring and be a three point threat.
I like Napier in 12 team leagues and deeper and think there is some staying power here as a sixth man off the bench.