A week ago, Husky legend Shabazz Napier was jet-setting via trade from Minnesota, to Denver, and finally to the Washington Wizards. The point guard — now on his sixth team in six years — is looking to end his breakout season strong and find a permanent home.
Through three games with the Wizards he’s averaging 11.7 points to go along with 3.7 assists and one steal. Although his floor minutes have slightly decreased compared to his starting role in Minnesota (down from 23 to 19), he’s already earning substantial playing-time while becoming a solid contributor for his new club.
We had a chance to catch up with Napier after he made his Wizards debut:
How did it feel to come in and make an impact day one?
Shabazz Napier: “It felt good to win. I hadn’t won a game in a while, so it felt good. Everybody came in and stepped up, especially the last couple of minutes. I thought we made a lot of big plays in the end.”
How was the transition to the second unit?
SN: “I was going out to just play basketball. Isaac Bonga and Troy Brown and the other guys told me to just go out there and play.”
How much success is attributed to cramming beforehand, or instincts?
SN: “A bit of both. The coaches talked with me through text and sent me the playbook before the game, so I looked through a few plays. Then it’s just going out there and playing. On this team, if you get stops, you just run. That’s the way you want to pay. I was fortunate enough to make some stops and the right reads.”
How similar are most NBA playbooks?
SN: “They’re quite similar. It’s all about fast-paced, running, and getting more possessions in a game. I think once you have that in your repertoire and you understand what teams like to do, you just go out and play.”
You were known in college and in the NBA for your three-point shooting, now you’re surrounded by some of the best in the league in Davis Bertans and Bradley Beal. How does that feel?
SN: “It’s amazing. I feel like I can learn a lot from them, how to keep my confidence up when I’m struggling. It’s great to be with guys that can open it up. Bradley is an All-Star caliber player and to see him out there doing what he does is amazing.”
How does it feel to work with a coaching staff where they don’t really know you at all, but have enough faith to throw you out there?
SN: “I think the coaches know who I am. This league is small. They wouldn’t trade for me if they didn’t know who I was. They know who I am, and at the end of the day they just told me to play. Today’s one of those days where they just wanted me to play, tomorrow will be the day where I go over plays and figure the schemes out and go from there. Today was a great game for us, I’m glad we got the win and am excited to be on the team.”