May 20, 2013, 4:07 PM EDT
In the last three years and five of the last six, the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft has been a player who declared after only one year of college basketball (Blake Griffin being the exception). At one point, Shabazz Muhammad was rated as the the No. 1 incoming freshman, so it’s reasonable he would have thought he was in line to become the No. 1 pick.
“I know I’m a great player. I’m a guy that believes he’s the best player in the draft.”
Let’s not demonize Muhammad for saying something a majority of – if not all – projected lottery picks are thinking about themselves. Most players rely on a supreme inner-confidence to push them through the challenges they face in such a high-profile endeavor.
But if any top prospect can least afford to say that aloud, it’s Muhammad. He was the center of UCLA’s offense, and although he filled that role pretty well, he’s not projected to handle such a big burden in the NBA, at least not immediately. Is he OK with that? The best player in the draft might want to remain a centerpiece, but the eighth-best player in the draft (or so) will have to come to grips with a lesser role in order to maximize his contributions at the next level.