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As expected, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad declares for draft

Apr 16, 2013, 12:58 PM EDT

Shabazz Muhammad Getty Images

While his stock has fallen in the last few months — he’s gone from a guy considered in the top three to a guy DraftExpress has going No. 9 overall right now — this was still expected.

UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad has declared for the NBA draft, the school announced on Tuesday.

“I am so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at UCLA and will always be proud to be a Bruin,” Muhammad said in a released statement. “From a young age, I have dreamed of playing in the NBA, and I believe that this is the right time for me to move to the next level.”

Muhammad is a 20-year-old, 6’6” swingman with a strong 220-pound frame and a crazy 6’11” wingspan. That length and a real intensity on the court make him a good defender on the wing and that is going to help him in the NBA (although his defensive focus could waiver when his offense struggled).

On the other end of the court, he’s a scorer, pure and simple. He led the Bruins with 17.9 points a game. But there are questions about how his game translates to the NBA.

First, he gets very little of his offense in isolation or in the pick-and-roll (less than 6 percent at UCLA, according to DraftExpress), which is something he’s going to have to do a lot more of at the NBA level.

Muhammad is what you would call a “bully scorer” — he used his superior strength to muscle his way into position to get buckets. He scored from the post a lot, he got to the line a lot, he ran curls to get the ball at the free throw line and made one-dribble moves a lot. There are some guys who can be successful using their strength to score in the NBA — LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony get points that way — but Muhammad is going to struggle to do that against the men of the NBA, his physical advantages dissipate. He isn’t big or strong enough to be able to post up a lot of NBA threes. He’s not such an athlete that he will dominate on the wing.

Also, he’s left hand dominant to a ridiculous degree and needs to develop a better right hand.

Scouts are picking apart his game right now and so he falls down the board (a year ago he was thought to be the No. 1 pick in this draft). There were recruiting questions. The fact that his father was heavy-handed in his development and had listed him as 19 for years when an L.A. Times investigation found he was 20 doesn’t help (it’s easier to use your strength to score as a teenager when you’re a year older than the competition). There are questions.

But he’s long and can defend, and he has a scorer’s mentality. He can fit in the NBA. He’s going to have to work and adjust, but he can become a good rotation player. And he’s going to go in the lottery, so this was a smart move for him (even if Steve Alford would have loved to have him for a year).

  1. hungrybear22 - Apr 16, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    He was a purely one dimensional player at UCLA, and I think that will definitely hurt his game at the next level. All he did was score, never got his teammates involved, didn’t rebound or defend particularly well either. But he is a good scorer. Just needs to develop the rest of his game.

    • dgbk - Apr 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      There arent many players who can defend well rebound score and get their teammates involved. I can think of maybe two lebron and cp3 there are others who are border line tony parker westbrook. The nba is not filled with guys who can do all for the most part everyone is one dimensional to a certain extent.Last year the bobcats took a player who was pretty much one dimensional with the #2 pick. If his one dimension is scoring he will have a long and productive nba career. games are never decided by who had the most rebounds or blocks. He can develop other things with time and if he dont he will still be valuable.

  2. pacific123ocean - Apr 16, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Good move for him, because his stock would only drop by playing another year in college.

  3. imforbigblue - Apr 16, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    He will fade in the NBA

  4. eugenesaxe - Apr 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Being picked #9 wouldn’t be the worst thing to ever happen to a guy.

  5. fnc111 - Apr 16, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    This kid better save his money or we’ll hear about him filing for bankruptcy in a few years. He won’t last long in the NBA.

  6. 4thquartermagic - Apr 16, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    From the description above I read his profile as being a talented headcase who likes to jack up shots.

    NBA is full of these types, but there’s room for one more.

  7. money2long - Apr 16, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    how are you listed at 19 for “years”
    anyway, i think the twolves would like him.

  8. misterdreamer119 - Apr 16, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    He dont inpress.

  9. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 16, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    He’s nothing special. Watched the kid all season. Had a few flashes, but he strikes you more as a Derek Anderson than a Tracy McGrady.

    • jimsjam33 - Apr 17, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      Say what ? Are you saying Derek Andersen couldn’t ball ? That would be a huge mistake . This kid is nothing like Andersen and right now he’s looking like a second rounder to me . No special skills . His upside is a strong upper body , but in the NBA that will get you a nice seat at the end of the bench in Charlotte or Washington .

  10. fearthehoody - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    As a Bruin fan, even I was not impressed! On the other hand, Howlin was his coach and we all know how players excel once they are out of his system

  11. deavn - Apr 17, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    He has the talent but I don’t know about his sportsmanship. When Larry Drew held the ball against Washington and he was calling for it and didn’t get it, I didn’t blame him for getting a little agitated but when the won the game and he was still angry, that’s when I realized that he’s kind of selfish. That’s not the characteristic of a winner. But who knows. That may be a good thing and he might end up being a competitor who can handle the 4th quarter pressure or he might end up just being a prick in the NBA with a bad attitude and give his team bad chemistry. Who knows.

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