The Nets have two accomplished point guards in D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, but that didn’t deter former UConn star Shabazz Napier from signing with the Nets as a free agent. Four years removed from his Final Four MVP performance for the 2014 national champions, Napier is coming off a career-best season with the Trail Blazers.
“I just felt like this was the place I was meant to be,” Napier said at his introductory news conference on Tuesday. “It’s a great group of guys here, making great steps to better themselves. I felt like this was just the perfect place for me.”
Napier averaged 8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 20.7 minutes per game and shot .376 percent from three-point range last season. Getting that same playing time with the Nets might be a challenge.
“Once the ball is in the air, we’re going to figure that out,” Napier said. “I’m here to help guys . . . and I’m excited to play with them.”
Napier played with Allen Crabbe in Portland before Crabbe was traded to the Nets last year. He heard nothing but good things about the Nets’ organization from Crabbe, and Napier was eager to return to the East Coast near his roots in Boston and at UConn.
After speaking with coach Kenny Atkinson about how he might fit the Nets’ “position-less” offense, Napier can visualize blending well with Russell, Dinwiddie, Crabbe, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris all in the mix at the guard spots.
“That’s one of the reasons why I chose here,” Napier said. “I felt like that was part of my game, position-less basketball, going up and down, getting the ball moving fast, being able to run to the corners and have somebody else handle the ball. I don’t need to be on the ball. I proved that when I was in Portland. That’s the reason why Kenny and I came to terms understanding this was a great fit for me.”