Three NBA Players Buried in Their Roster

As fans, sometimes we forget that even the guys on the end of the bench are among the best basketball players in the world. Here are few guys who need more minutes to remind us.

Shabazz Napier

Let me just be clear about something: my fantasy basketball team is named "Shabazz Nice.". Yes, that includes the period. Since being drafted 24th overall by the at-the-time Charlotte Bobcats, Napier hasn't seen much playing time. Traded almost immediately to the Heat, Napier spent his time bouncing back and forth between the NBA and the D-League. He was traded from Miami to Orlando in exchange for a top-55 protected pick, then from Orlando to Portland for cash considerations. Let's go over that for a second. Napier was traded for a future bottom five second round pick and then for an undisclosed amount of cash. Is this the same guy who single handedly led UConn to a chip over Julius Randle's Kentucky?

Napier was a heady player in college and that hasn't changed since coming to the NBA. Just look at the way he exploits the switch at :27. Or how about his understanding of the pick and pop game at 1:59? His shooting mechanics off the dribble aren't all there—look at the way his legs snap out when he pulls up off the bounce, but he certainly knows how to get his own shot. Remember what he did in Brooklyn?

Napier is stuck behind Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Evan Turner, and Allen Crabbe. With the way that Terry Stotts staggers Lillard and McCollum's minutes and Evan Turner's ball handling ability, that leaves a scarce amount of time for a guy like Shabazz. He's an admittedly poor individual defender, poor measurables (6'-1" with a 6'-3" wingspan) hold him back from being able to lock up a man, one on one. However, time as a four-year college player means he knows where to be within a team defense. I think Shabazz is a perfectly serviceable back-up point guard. Just not in Portland.

Terry Rozier

Here's another undersized combo guard who just knows how to play basketball. Two years at Louisville under Rick Pitino is like four years under Tom Thibodeau. Rozier was the guy for the Cardinals, initiating the offense by picking up full court almost every possession. As a result, he has great defensive instincts and in his limited minutes, was a nightmare to dribble and pass around. He's a high energy player who zips around the court with abandon. He had a handful of great games as a rookie, including this one against the Nets:

Where Rozier will need to improve is as a playmaker. He's a shoot first point guard who generates most of his assists within a system. Tightening up his handle will be a must for him as a 6'-1" guard. Being a threat to turn the corner in pick-and-roll situations would make him a true two-way threat and grant him more passing lanes to create more in the half court. As it is, he's behind Isaiah Thomas and much improved guards in Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. More minutes at the NBA level and the game will start to slow down for him. He's not there yet, but Rozier will find his place on the right roster.

Darrell Arthur

Boy, do the Nuggets have logjams throughout their roster. Wing depth is almost a problem for them. When Gary Harris returns from injury, they have five wings (Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton, Wilson Chandler and Jamal Murray) fighting for playing time. Moreover, with a frontcourt of Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, Kenneth Faried, and Wilson Chandler (who's at his best at the 4), there just aren't enough minutes to go around. With a silky—if inconsistent—jumper that stretches to the 3-point line (a 39% 3-point shooter last season), Arthur is a valuable commodity as a stretch-4.

Throw in a 6'11" wingspan on a 6'-9" frame and Arthur has the measurables to be a prototypical 4 in today's NBA. A plus defender for most of his career, Arthur will have to prove his ability to hit the three ball out of pick-and-pop sets with increased consistency, but put him in the right situation with a good point guard and a versatile defensive line-up and Arthur could be a major contributor on both sides of the ball, either switching out defending the pick-and-roll or stepping out and making defenses pay in pick-and-pop opportunities. Watch him blow up the offense while hedging off the screener:

For a guy who's shown he can go both ways at the four, 7.5 minutes/game to this point in the season is just not enough.

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