By: Sam Ekstrom | KFAN.com
In a series of posts leading up to the NBA Draft, I’ll be analyzing several players who would fit well with the Wolves. In case you missed the first two articles, CLICK HERE for the scouting report on Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum. CLICK HERE for the scouting report on Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Today’s Prospect: SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD
Probably the biggest gamble of the NBA Draft.
Muhammad was a one-and-done star at UCLA who made waves in March when it was discovered he had been lying about his age. Just before the Bruins’ first NCAA tournament game against Minnesota, Muhammad suddenly became a 20-year-old when his birth certificate revealed that he was not 19 years of age as all had thought.
His character has also been questioned in light of NCAA sanctions that showed Muhammad received impermissible benefits in high school.
But despite all the superfluous s activity, Muhammad has potential to be an extraordinary NBA talent.
Standing at 6’6”, 220 pounds with a 6’11” wingspan and a 37” vertical, Muhammad has the physical assets to be a stretch 2-3 hybrid—someone who had play the shooting guard and small forward positions. Wolves’ president of basketball operations Flip Saunders has also made it known that the team values perimeter defense, which Muhammad could bring with his lengthy frame. He would need to improve, however, on the defensive prowess he showed in his single year of college basketball.
In 32 college games, the left-handed Muhammad averaged just under 18 PPG and totaled shooting splits of 44/38/71 (FG/3P/FT). While the Las Vegas native accounted for about a quarter of his team’s offense, he didn’t exactly make his teammates better, which is often considered the mark of a true impact player.
Muhammad averaged just 0.8 assists per game and had an atrocious assist/turnover ratio of 0.53:1. That’s not very encouraging for a guy who played the second-most minutes on his team and had the ball in his hands enough to shoot over 14 times per game.
The initial conclusion on Muhammad is that he possesses great offensive gifts, but little else at this point. His baggage probably isn’t something the Wolves want to deal with, especially when coach Rick Adelman has been vocal about adding mature veterans to the locker room. Muhammad gives off the vibe of a DeMarcus Cousins 2.0.
The continued belief, at least from this particular writer, is that the Wolves aren’t necessarily going to take a gamble trying to find the second-coming of M.J. Rather, they need somebody safer and more developed—not a project—who can hit outside shots, defend the perimeter, and complement the existing pair of stars on the roster. It’s questionable whether or not Muhammad could do that.
However, there’s no denying that Muhammad is a born scorer, and his work ethic is reportedly excellent. He’s the type of player who could provide the offensive lift the team lacked last season when several players succumbed to injury.
This would be a draft selection that could make or break Flip Saunders’ first year back in Minnesota.