The Minnesota Timberwolves didn't get the point guard they wanted this offseason, but they managed to get a tremendous deal in acquiring Shabazz Napier.
When Minnesota Timberwolves fans found out they were part of a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, they thought they were finally getting their point guard of the future in D'Angelo Russell to play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
Unfortunately, the Golden State Warriors came out of nowhere to trade for Russell after the talented point guard had just taken a visit to Minnesota in what looked like a done deal.
While Gersson Rosas and the front office had to be disappointed after missing out on Russell, they did manage to get a much-needed point guard in that deal in Shabazz Napier along with a solid wing in Treveon Graham.
Even after an incredible college career where he won two national titles, including one where he was the clear go-to guy at Connecticut, Napier nearly fell out of the first round despite LeBron James famously lobbying for the Heat to draft him.
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Even after that strong season with the Blazers, the Nets were able to sign him to a two-year deal worth just $3.8 million in the summer of 2018 after Portland declined to offer Shabazz a qualifying offer.
The Wolves are now bearing the fruit of that incredibly valuable contract as Napier has kept the team afloat despite a rash of injuries and illnesses to key players this season.
This season, Shabazz is averaging career-highs in points per game (9.6), assists (4.1), and rebounds (2.5) while often having the ball in his hands down the stretch when Wiggins and Towns have been sidelined.
Napier is shooting just 28% from three this year, but a career-high 52.1% on two-pointers has helped him continue to be an efficient scorer with a decent true shooting percentage of 52%.
Shabazz's shooting has been trending up lately as he's hitting 39.4% of his threes in January after dealing with a sore hamstring during a slow start to the season.
The biggest surprise in Napier's game this season has been his defense, as Tyler Metcalf detailed for us a week ago.
Despite his small stature, Shabazz has ranked in the top 20 among point guards in defensive real plus-minus while swiping 1 steal per game in under 22 minutes per night, which would extrapolate to 1.7 steals per 36 minutes.
His veteran know-how has been extremely valuable to this team on both ends of the floor as he's often sharing the court with a lot of the Wolves' young and inexperienced players.
Unfortunately, Napier's contract is done after this season as he's set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Until then, the Wolves will enjoy having a veteran point guard on one of the best deals in the NBA as he continues to play a more prominent role on this team.