Skip to content

PBT NBA Draft Preview: Has Shabazz Muhammad slid into a real value pick?

May 14, 2013, 8:01 PM EDT

Shabazz Muhammad Getty Images

For the next five weeks PBT will be profiling likely first-round draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Tonight we look at UCLA’s star from last season.

If you looked at the early 2013 NBA draft projections that came out right after the 2012 draft, Shabazz Muhammad was in everybody’s top three. He was the college recruit that was going to save Ben Howland at UCLA and go on to be a big-time NBA player.

Things look very different a year later.

In college the weaknesses in Muhammad’s game were exposed and he couldn’t just be a bully scorer anymore. Then came the revelation in a Los Angeles Times piece that he is 20 years old, not 19. (When you play a physical game, being a high schooler a year older than everyone is a big advantage.) Right now DraftExpress has him going at No. 10.

I got to see a fair amount of him in college and Muhammad can still ball — he can score a variety of ways and he can defend, he’s high energy — but he’s seen as a rotation player on the wing (he’s 6’6”). Sometimes players like this that slide can slide too far — they go from being overvalued to undervalued. We’ll see if that’s the case here.

STRENGTHS

He can score. He’s physically strong and knows how to use that to get the shots he wants — he’s what you’d call a bully scorer in a lot of ways. He made a living in college just dominating smaller defenders and he can do that in the pros. He also runs the floor really well and can score in transition.

If he goes to a team with a strong point guard already he can be very dangerous — he can catch and shoot threes, he can cut and slash, and with that strength he finishes around the rim.

But really the best thing about him is the effort — when things are going his way (he can slack when shots don’t fall). When he’s on he doesn’t take plays off at either end. He will work hard on defense, he’s physical and he can grind. He wants to get better. He has the mentality Tom Thibodeau would love. Which is a good sign.

WEAKNESSES

He’s very one-handed — he’s all left hand. That makes him easier to defend and that was already a bit of an issue. While he knows how to score he’s not a guy who can really create his own shot at the NBA level. He could be a guy taking a lot of contested runners. Again, this becomes about fit, in the right system his style of scoring would have value. But he’s not a guy you want to get in a lot of isolation situations in the NBA.

The other concern is that he’s not that athletic (solid but not explosive by NBA standards) and he’s an inch or two shorter than a handful of the threes he likely guards at the NBA. While he has the effort, is he ripe to get abused in mismatches?

There also were a number of red flags for teams — academic issues, an overbearing father, questions about how good a teammate he was. Interviews at the draft combine and at workouts will matter a lot for him; he needs to dispel all that.

WHERE DOES HE GET DRAFTED?

Probably between five and 10 (DraftExpress says 10). Again, this is a guy I think could really thrive in the right system with the right point guard next to him. Teams such as the Wizards, the Timberwolves and the Trail Blazers (with guards who can create for him) could put Muhammad in the rotation and get some value right away.

Also remember to look at the guys who have come out of Ben Howland’s UCLA in recent years (Jrue Holiday, for example) — they look a lot better in the pros than they did in his system.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Frank Vogel “coaching for his job” in wake of team’s slide

    Apr 23, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game Two Getty Images

    It would be a mistake, but the Pacers’ slide has everyone on edge in Indy.

  2. Phoenix’s Goran Dragic runs away with Most Improved Player

    Apr 23, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis

    Lance Stephenson was second, Anthony Davis third, but they were well back of Dragic.

  3. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin declares for NBA draft

    Apr 23, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Traevon Jackson, Isaiah Austin Traevon Jackson, Isaiah Austin

    7-foot-1, athletic with 3-point range — what’s not to like? A decent amount

  4. Frank Vogel not afraid to make adjustments, but the one he didn’t make might make the difference

    Apr 23, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    vogelhibbert

    Frank Vogel resisted the urge to do anything dramatic and trusted his team to make little changes. It worked.

  5. Mario Chalmers questionable for Game 2

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat

    Heat will need point guard more later than against Bobcats

  6. Wednesday playoff previews: Rockets know they need a win

    Apr 23, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons AP

    Can Houston bounce back to even the series?

  7. Report: Pacers’ Lance Stephenson, Evan Turner got in fight day before Game 1

    Apr 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Indiana Pacers - Game One Getty Images

    Teammates reportedly broke up the fight, but I bet they really wanted to step back and let it go for a while.

  8. Tuesday NBA grades: Beal, DeRozan not perfect but good enough

    Apr 23, 2014, 2:34 AM EDT

    NBA: Playoffs-Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors Reuters

    Teams leading scorers were not perfect but they were good enough.

  9. Raptors even series with Game 2 win over Nets

    Apr 22, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    DeMar DeRozan DeMar DeRozan

    Raptors win Game 2, but it feels like this series is Brooklyn’s to lose.

  10. Pacers bounce back with blowout Game 2 win over Hawks

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:38 PM EDT

    Paul George Paul George

    Pacers go on a monster third quarter run to even series with Hawks.

  11. Cavaliers GM says he’s shifting team into ‘targeted acquisition mode’

    Apr 22, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    David Griffin David Griffin

    Interim GM for the Cavaliers intends to remain aggressive in upgrading talent, but there are other issues that need to be addressed first.

  12. Warriors abandon arena on the water plan, buy land in Mission Bay area of San Francisco arena

    Apr 22, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors

    Building on the water was always a long shot, now they found a place they can get a deal done.

  13. Nowitzki says Mavs plan to stick with Jose Calderon… but for how long?

    Apr 22, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs - Game One Getty Images

    Calderon’s defensive limitations are an issue, but Nowitzki says, “We’re rolling the way we’re set up.”

  14. Kentucky’s Julius Randle makes the expected official: He will enter NBA Draft

    Apr 22, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT

    Julius Randle AP

    Most teams have the Kentucky power forward 3-5 on their draft boards.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (2958)
  2. D. Wade (2879)
  3. A. Jefferson (2760)
  4. D. Rose (2678)
  5. J. Noah (2595)
  1. L. James (2553)
  2. K. Bryant (2403)
  3. A. Bogut (2266)
  4. N. Hilario (2097)
  5. S. Curry (2093)