Photo: US Presswire
Name: Shabazz Muhammad Age: 19 School: UCLA
Height: 6’6 Weight: 225 Projected Position: SG/SF
2012-13 Stats (As of 3/6/13):
18.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.7 tpg (30.5 minutes per game)
46.1 FG%, 71.9 FT%, 44.6 3FG%, 55.2 TS%, 51.2 eFG%
29.7 USG%, 9.1 TRB%, 9.3 ORB%, 8.8 DRB%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Muhammad is a good perimeter shooter, but with some caveats. When he can spot up and get his feet set and go through his full shooting motion, he is very good, especially behind the 3-point arc. He squares to the basket well, gets good lift from his legs, but he has a low release point and slow release. When he shoots he seems to over-follow-through on the release, which lessens some of the lift he gets from his legs, makes the shot less fluid, and adds unnecessary time to the release. He isn’t very good at creating the space needed for his own shot, so he has to rely on screens, often more than 1, to get him the space and time he needs to get his shot off. Muhammad also isn’t very good shooting off the dribble. He doesn’t have the time to get set so he ends up drifting on the shot and pushing the ball towards the basket.
Muhammad is an average ballhandler, doing a good job keeping the ball low and close to his body. He is able to use both hands, but is much stronger with his left than with his right, to the point that he will almost always go to his left. He doesn’t use many advanced dribbles other than a good change of pace when going to his left. He prefers to power the ball to the basket. Muhammad has good body control and is able to stop quickly after getting into the lane and take a short jumper or floater. He needs to be more aggressive in looking to get to the basket, but that won’t happen unless he becomes better with his right hand. Muhammad has improved how he uses screens to free himself from his defender, though he still needs to work on coming around the screen and accelerating.
Post Skills/Offensive Rebounding
This is where Muhammad has made his biggest impact. He uses his strong build to seal off his defender and back him down, usually quite easily. He doesn’t have many moves, but his go-to move, 2 or 3 strong dribbles and a short hook, has been effective. Similar to his penetration, he will almost always go with his left hand to make his move, setting up on the right block. If he goes to his right, it will usually be for one dribble and a spin back to his left. He doesn’t have great touch around the basket, he pushes the ball more than shoots it, but he is hits his target more often than not. If he faces up out of the post, it is more of the same. He will always look to go left, and if he goes right, he will always spin back to his left, usually to shoot a short floater. Muhammad crashes the offensive glass well for his size, has a good nose for the ball and uses his body well to establish position. He goes strong after the ball and is quick to get a 2nd shot off.
Free Throw Shooting
Muhammad is an average free throw shooter, but should improve over time. He has a consistent routine and is very focused at the line. Like his jumper, he has an odd release, almost over-following through on the shot, leading to ball often coming as a line-drive off his fingers. He does a good job drawing contact when he plays around the basket, but he takes the majority of his shots from the perimeter, so he only averages less than 6 attempts per game. It’s even less impressive when he averages around 14 field goal attempts per game.
Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)
Muhammad is a below-average on-ball defender, but is improving. He gets good position, stays low and keeps his arms wide and active to disrupt passing lanes. His lateral movement has improvement, but still isn’t very good. His biggest issues are that he is slow to react to his man’s movements, and he doesn’t understand how to play angles when his man is looking to get by him. A ball-fake and one quick step in either direction, and his man is gone, leaving Muhammad to chase from behind. He also has to learn how to handle getting through screens, and understanding when he needs to get over the top against a good shooter. Using his strength to his advantage and learning how to be physical on defense will be key to his development. Off the ball, Muhammad is slightly better. He does a good job positioning himself in a way where he can jump or deny passing lanes, and easily move between helping or closing on his man. Defensive awareness is another area Muhammad needs to improve, he can become too focused on either following the ball or his man that he loses track of the plays around him.
Muhammad is a good defensive rebounder for his size, doing a strong job anticipating missed shots, getting in position, and using his body to clear space. He is goes strong after the ball, and his leaping ability allows him to fight for rebounds against bigger players. He secures the ball well and is able to take the rebound and start pushing it in transition if necessary. My biggest issue is we only get involved if he is around the basket area, and will often look to start heading upcourt before his team has even secured the rebound (though I can’t say that this isn’t his Coach’s instructions). At the next level, he will need to be more aware of keeping perimeter offensive players from looking to crash the boards instead of ignoring them and heading away from the play.
Muhammad can be very dangerous in transition, and is capable of some spectacular plays. As the ballhandler on the break, Muhammad gets the ball up court quickly, and will just look to beat or overpower the defense to the basket. He is capable of finishing through contact and above the rim in a variety of ways. Like everything else, the key is to take away his left hand. He doesn’t push the ball quickly or confidently with his right hand. He is very good running the wings and either spotting up on the perimeter or catching the ball and driving strong to the basket.
There is no denying Muhammad’s ability to find ways to score, but unless he makes a lot of changes, I don’t think he will find it that easy at the NBA level. He has to continue to develop his jumper; including fixing his release so he is able to get his shot off the dribble and not having to rely on a slew of screens. Also, he needs to work on getting his right hand at least to the level where he can get into the lane and make plays around the basket with it. His ability to use his body to make plays in the post area, as well as ability to run the floor in transition, will help him greatly as he gets used to the NBA. Defensively, he needs to continue his development, including being able to read and react to his man better, and having better awareness and understanding of team defense. He works hard and he plays hard, he just needs to focus on the right things. While it may be a non-issue to some, Muhammad has visibly shown up a teammate twice on television for not getting the ball when he wanted.
Draft Value: 1st round- Lottery – #7-13
Muhammad has his bright spots, but other than scoring, he doesn’t offer a team a whole lot. If he can improve some of the areas highlighted above quickly, he can be a very good NBA player, but there is as much a chance that he ends up as just a high-volume shooter.
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