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Napier's top three performances of the season so far
Acquired by the Wizards in a trade deadline deal with the Nuggets, Shabazz Napier has played just 15 games in Washington this season, including eight starts. In that time, however, he’s provided a spark at both ends of the court, including three games with 20-plus points, seven games with five-plus assists and seven games with multiple steals. Napier’s impact on the team since the deadline has drawn praise from Tommy Sheppard, Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal and more. Below is a look at Napier’s top three Wizards performances of the season so far.
3. March 10, 2020 vs. New York21 PTS / 2 REB / 6 AST / 3 STL
The last game the Wizards played this season before the league-imposed hiatus was one of Napier’s best. Coming off a season-high 27-point night against Miami two nights prior, Napier went for 21 points, six assists and a trio of steals in a win over the Knicks. Ish Smith was out for the third consecutive game with left hamstring tightness, leaving Napier as the Wizards only true point guard option. He converted on his only field goal attempt in the first quarter, a 3-pointer just over a minute into the game, as the Wizards jumped out to an early seven-point lead.
Napier’s game was steady and hit every aspect of the game. He shot 6-12 (.500) from the field and hit all six of his free throws, dished out six assists and gave the Knicks problems on the defensive end. Napier’s 38:14 minutes played were his second most of the season.
“Normally for me I'm always trying to be a talker and a leader by actions,” Napier said. “I just try to figure out where I can help out. Today I just tried to navigate certain areas of the game where I know I have a little expertise and understood that. Credit to the guys giving me a chance to do so. The biggest thing to me is always lead by actions and for the first couple games that's what I was trying to do. Now it's just feeling more comfortable with the guys and explaining to them what I see out there.”
Napier’s performance drew some postgame praise from Bradley Beal.
“He is a true point guard, but he can score,” Beal said. “I always tell him to be aggressive. I know he wants to get guys open and run the team. He runs the team like a true point. I respect him in a lot of ways. He is very vocal. He holds me accountable too. He holds everybody to the same standards. We are definitely are happy to have him, and it is not by accident the production that he is putting out there.”
2. February 24, 2020 vs. Milwaukee27 PTS / 4 REB / 7 AST / 2 STL / 10-17 (.588) FG
In what was his last game coming off the bench, Napier made it a memorable one. With Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant out of the lineup, Napier was tasked with leading the bench unit. Napier scored 27 points to tie his season high, shooting 10-17 (.588) from the field – his first 20-point game with the Wizards in his seventh game playing with the team. His 10 field goals made were his most of the season while his seven assists tied his highest total in Washington. Five of Napier’s seven assists went to Bradley Beal, who scored a game-high 55 points.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” Napier said. I’ve been trying to figure myself out with the team and try to be aggressive. I was fortunate to make shots today.” Napier did most of his work in the second half, including a seven-point stretch in the third quarter that took just 2:51 of game time. He played all but one second of the fourth quarter, scoring 11 points on 4-4 (1.000) from the field to go along with three assists to help the Wizards mount a 17-point comeback and force overtime against the league-leading Bucks.
1. March 8, 2020 vs. Miami27 PTS / 4 REB / 7 AST / 4 STL / 11-14 (.786) FT
After four consecutive games scoring in single digits, Napier broke out of the slump with his best game of the year. With Smith (left hamstring tightness) out again, Napier made the most of each of his season-high 40 minutes. Napier played his most aggressive game of the season, getting to the line 14 times, double his previous high for the year (seven). He hit 11-14 (.786) at the line including 5-6 (.833) in the second quarter and 5-5 (1.000) in the third. Napier shot 4-8 (.500) from deep, including a pair of threes over a 63-second span in the fourth quarter to put the Wizards up eight with 9:24 to play.
“(Shabazz) is more than capable of doing that, I’ve been telling him that,” Beal said postgame.
Napier did a little bit of everything against Miami. His 27 tied his season high while his seven assists and four rebounds each tied highs for his time in Washington. Napier was also a force on the defensive end, grabbing a career-high four steals.