One of the bright spots in the first half of the Portland Trail Blazers’ season has been the burst of energy from fourth-year guard Shabazz Napier. Napier is averaging a career-high 9.4 points and 1.3 steals off the bench, and has factored heavily with Damian Lillard sidelined recently.
Napier spoke with Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders about his improvement and his experience with the Blazers.
Lillard gave Napier strong advice about how to contribute to the team this season.
Just be myself. Just try to be the Shabazz he knows. Go out there, have confidence and build yourself up to where you can understand the game each night in and night out. Just be willing to understand at that level—since I haven’t been at that level since I’ve been in the NBA. I haven’t been a starter, a consistent starter or played that many minutes, so he just told me to be myself.
Napier averaged 18 points per game in the five games Lillard missed with a right calf strain. Napier’s masterwork came against the Los Angeles Lakers, in which he shot 57 percent from three, and finished with 21 points, five assists, three steals and just one turnover in the 95-92 win.
I think it’s a growing confidence just based on—no matter who you are as a player, you have to learn from your own experience. You can’t learn from watching somebody else. Being able to play the game and watch film and learn at the same time has helped me gain confidence in my game. It’s been huge for me because of what type of player I am. I’m a scoring guard and to have confidence in my own game, it makes everything else easier.
To read Davies’ full article, follow this link.