SB Nation is posting scouting reports of each prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. Learn more about UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad.
NAME: Shabazz Muhammad.
AGE ON DRAFT NIGHT: 20 years, seven months
POSITION: Small forward.
MEASUREMENTS: 6'6, 222 pounds, 6'11 wingspan, 8'8.5 standing reach.
|2012 - Shabazz Muhammad||32||30.8||6.3||14.3||44.3||1.3||3.3||37.7||4.0||5.6||71.1||2.7||2.5||5.2||0.8||1.6||0.7||0.1||1.7||17.9|
RELEVANT ADVANCED STAT: 0.53 assist to turnover ratio this season. That's not in any way deceptive. He didn't pass the ball much.
SB NATION BIG BOARD POSITION: No. 22.
NBA CEILING: Prime Corey Maggette.
NBA FLOOR: Reggie Williams.
JONATHAN TJARKS' ANALYSIS
No prospect has had a harsher spotlight on them than Shabazz Muhammad, who has gone from a potential No. 1 pick to possibly sliding out of the lottery. No matter what you make of the circus surrounding him off the court, there are legitimate concerns about how his game will translate to the next level.
Muhammad is coming off a solid freshman season at UCLA, where he averaged 18 points, five rebounds and one assist on 44 percent shooting from the field, 37 percent from the three-point line and 71 percent from the free-throw stripe. In looking at his statistical profile, the concern is his lack of secondary skills. If Muhammad isn't scoring at a high average, he isn't helping a team much.
At 6'6 and 220 pounds with a 6'11 wingspan, he's an undersized small forward who's an average to below-average athlete for his position in the NBA. A player with his physical profile and one-dimensional game has little chance of being a star at the next level.
Muhammad is a pure scorer who is most effective near his paint, where he uses his physicality to create looks at the basket. The question is how effective he can be at the next level if he has to score over the top of bigger and better athletes at the small forward position.
If he's not a primary option offensively, it will be hard to keep him in the starting lineup. At this point in his career, he's a decent outside shooter, an average rebounder, poor defender and a below-average passer.
If he can improve his passing and approach to the game, he has the chance to develop into a useful secondary playmaker. Regardless of the problems with the system at UCLA, there's no reason for a scorer as gifted as Shabazz to be averaging 0.7 assists a game.
At least initially, he's probably best used as a sixth man who can take advantage of second-unit defenders. The key will be controlling the expectations surrounding him.
DRAFT EXPRESS SCOUTING REPORT
OTHER SB NATION SCOUTING REPORTS
In what may come as a shock to most UCLA fans, in some ways Shabazz exceed expectations and justified what UCLA and Howland has done for him. Until a slump to close out the season of going 3-23 on three pointers (including 0 for his last 10), Shabazz was showing some very impressive range from three, hitting 45 percent until that point. All that extra time in Pauley was paying off. Howland or UCLA helped improve Shabazz's range and if I was an NBA scout I would not be worried about his range.
In other ways Shabazz met expectations. Despite always being the No. 1 option, Shabazz found ways to score. Shabazz Muhammad was the seventh-best offense rebounder in the conference and the only guy in the top 10 that was not a power forward or center. Since he is really only 6'4, he proved the non-stop motor part and then some on offense.
Of course there are the problems beginning with the way he played, or did not play, defense. The scouts were very wrong on the non-stop motor part on the defensive side of the ball. If reverse was defense, Shabazz was like a formula one car, great going forward but with no reverse gear. Shabazz also averaged less than an assist per game. Put in perspective the much-maligned for not passing enough David Wear had more assists than Shabazz.
Shabazz Muhammad's stock is careening out of the lottery, according to the whispers out of the 2013 NBA Draft Combine. In what's purported to be a pretty bad draft, that's especially stunning. Sure, he's a year older than he has long claimed, which is bizarre and ... well, it's pretty much just bizarre. But it's almost as if everyone has totally forgotten why he was pegged as a lottery pick -- in fact, a potential No. 1 overall pick -- in the first place!
The same thing could have been said about a similar player last year: Harrison Barnes.
Muhammad projects as a very good scorer in the NBA, but right now there are too many glaring holes in his game, namely his playmaking and defense, to determine if he has what to takes to fulfill the projections of stardom that hung over him a few years ago. I think some casual fans who've heard for years about Muhammad's supposed elite-level athleticism could be shocked when they first see him on an NBA court and realize that he's actually not that great of an athlete for a lottery pick.
Muhammad was raised his whole life to be in the NBA. As a collegiate athlete, there can be some speculation as to whether choosing UCLA was the best choice. Coach Ben Howland has earned criticism for under-using and mismanaging his NBA prospects. After the season ended, the Bruins fired Howland. Would Muhammad have been better off going to Kentucky to play under John Calipari? That's a reasonable question.
He has a lot of flaws as a basketball player and the age scandal is one that will haunt his draft stock. But he is a premiere scorer with a desire to be the best. He's going to give you 110 percent on the offensive end of the floor and if you're in need of a scorer, he could be a good fit.
Shabazz Muhammad has to be one of the most debated prospects in this year's draft. Coming into the season he was the top ranked prospect overall, but after going through some troubles with his NCAA eligibility and finally showing up at UCLA a little overweight and out of shape, some of the luster quickly started to wear off. However, once he got into the grove at UCLA he showed exactly why scouts and analysts were so high on him. He is a versatile player who can slash to the rim or score with a jumper. He is a pretty good athlete, a willing defender (if not a very effective one), and he has a very high motor; giving it his all on both ends of the floor. The biggest knocks against Shabazz are that he heavily favors his dominant left hand, he struggles in transition, and he sometimes struggles to create his own shot. However, Shabazz has all of the physical tools to be successful in the NBA, and many of his weaknesses are areas that he can improve upon. If he slides in the draft he could end up being a steal for the team that ends up selecting him.
I was excited about Muhammad before his freshman season, then soured on him as the numbers came in. I don't care about his eligibility issues nor his age, all I care about is what he accomplished on court. Unfortunately, it's easy to look at Muhammad and see a player with a below-average efficiency, one who needs control of the ball to produce. When you add his unimpressive athletic numbers (steals and rebounds), Shabazz seems like an unimpressive player.
However, I do find a bit of intrigue in Shabazz, and he might actually have value for a team like Detroit. For a guy with such a high usage rate, Muhammad barely attempts isolation plays and he barely turns the ball over. Most of his offensive production comes from spot-up attempts, which by nature are shots that are most often assisted. He also only turns the ball over a stunning 1.6 times per game (opposite 14.3 shot attempts). What's more, while these stats suggest low-usage playmaking, he gets to the line 5.6 times per game. This points to a guy who could be successful playing off-the-ball and not wasting shot clock or blowing plays.
Shabazz Muhammad was the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft before the NCAA season started. His other-worldly size, speed and athleticism give him an undeniable edge over his opponents. He's improved his shooting and ball-handling, making him practically unguardable in isolation situations. The biggest concern with his transition to the NBA is that his natural talents will equalize once he's playing against better competition. This is a legitimate concern, but I'm not sure if Muhammad should have dropped as low as he did.
For more coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA Draft 2013 section.