Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Draft Profile: Shabazz Muhammad's Tenuous Stock

In the run-up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, the BDD staff will be profiling several projected lottery picks and other draft entrants. Next up: Shabazz Muhammad.

The former No. 1 college recruit has questions to answer before the June 27 draft. (tucsoncitizen.com)

Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
School: UCLA
DraftExpress Projection: No. 9 in the first round, No. 9 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Synopsis: Shabazz Muhammad came into this past season as the No. 1 recruit in the nation, and will enter the NBA as a lottery pick. However, there are certainly questions about Muhammad as he begins his professional career. While he showed some potent offensive skills, his defense, at times, left something to be desired, and there are questions about his motor and character. The combination of his talent and offensive skill set and his questionable motivation and defensive intensity makes Muhammad one of the more compelling prospects to track in this year’s NBA Draft.

There are plenty of positives about the former No. 1 recruit, mainly on the offensive side. He has the ability to get to the rim and is very good about moving without the ball to get open for his shots. He’s a very aggressive offensive player, averaging 18 points per game at UCLA, and puts a ton of pressure on opposing defenses to always know where he was on the court. Muhammad also showed a well above-average jumpshot, knocking down nearly 40 percent of his attempts from behind the arc. DraftExpress also pegs Muhammad as an excellent offensive rebounder, as he consistently crashed the glass effectively for second-chance buckets. A major plus to Muhammed’s offensive game is he takes care of the ball, turning it over less than two times per game. He will need to work on his ball handling at the next level, as he will struggle to get his own shot against NBA-caliber defenders otherwise. Overall, Muhammad has a very polished, all-around offensive game.

Muhammad is not without flaws, however. His defensive performance is largely tied to how involved he is in the offense. When he’s in a rhythm and consistently getting shots to fall, Muhammad’s energy on the defensive side of the court is good. When he misses a few shots or simply goes a couple of possessions without touching the ball, his attention to detail and intensity on the defensive end tend to slip. He also doesn’t generate a lot of turnovers, which will make it interesting to see how he translates to the next level defensively. His athleticism has been called into question as well by those at DraftExpress, so it will be interesting to see how all these factors affect Muhammad’s transition to the NBA. There is also a cloud of drama that has hovered over his head since before he ever put on a UCLA Bruins jersey. Before ever playing in an NCAA game, he had issues with his eligibility. As the season went on, a major story broke about how Muhammad’s age was falsified. Finally, the Bruins of UCLA, led by Muhammad, took a tough first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament, which led to Ben Howland’s firing. All of these factors, combined with the questions about his defense, could lead to Muhammad’s slide in the draft.

Quote to Note: "There was some stuff that I wasn't really comfortable with. It wasn't a really up-tempo style of play, but I really enjoyed playing there... I didn't really get to show a lot of off-the-dribble stuff.” - Muhammad on Ben Howland’s system at UCLA, via CBSSports.com.

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