NPM is a package manager for Node.js with hundreds of thousands of packages. Although it does create some of your directory structure/organization, this is not the main purpose.
The main goal, as you touched upon, is automated dependency and package management. This means that you can specify all of your project’s dependencies inside your package.json file, then any time you (or anyone else) needs to get started with your project they can just run npm install and immediately have all of the dependencies installed. On top of this, it is also possible to specify what versions your project depends upon to prevent updates from breaking your project.
It is definitely possible to manually download your libraries, copy them into the correct directories, and use them that way. However, as your project (and list of dependencies) grows, this will quickly become time-consuming and messy. It also makes collaborating and sharing your project that much more difficult.
Next-Configuration of NPM