NBA Position: SF
Standing Reach: 8-8
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
High School: Bishop Gorman
Basement: Jared Dudley
- High Motor
- NBA Body
- Good (Catch-And-Shoot) Shooter
- NBA 3PT Range
- Average Athlete
- Poor Defensive Mechanics
- Inefficient in Transition
- Poor Body Language
This season has been a mixed bag for Muhammad on the whole. He has shown a penchant for scoring the ball from the perimeter with his ability to catch-and-shoot the three and has the physical tools to score the ball consistently from the wing.
Athletically, Muhammad has a strong build that is ready for the NBA today with good strength, length, and the ability to play both the two and the three.
As a two he will be at a quickness disadvantage with the elite level athletes of the NBA that have the ability to move laterally quicker than Muhammad has shown. On the defensive end he does not have the posture or the technique to defend quicker guards of similar build. As a defender Muhammad does not get low enough nor have his hips pointed in the right direction while defending perimeter scorers.
Having proper technique on the defensive end is not talked about as much as leaping ability and shooting, but it is something that will affect Muhammad at the next level with his development.
Watching film of Muhammad on the defensive end highlights the technical problems he has on that end of the floor.
Muhammad jumps back into defensive position when his man has the ball and does not angle himself properly to stop his defender from blowing by me. His hands are rarely in position to take advantage of his length, but in most situations they are down at his side. With a defensive coach and system in place at UCLA there has not been much development on that end of the floor.
Where Muhammad makes his biggest impact is on the offensive end. As mentioned above he has grown into one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the country all the way out the NBA three-point range.
He has a good, quick release that he gets off while coming off of screens, pin-downs, and flares with ease thanks to the fluidity of the release. As a lefty Muhammad is able to keep the defense off balance with his floor spacing and shooting.
In transition Muhammad has the strength and leaping ability to fill a lane and finish strong. The issues Muhammad faces in transition are that he does not space the floor and, when he is leading the break, he does not make good decisions with the ball. In each game I have observed this season Muhammad has left four to six points on the table because of poor execution in transition. Those deficiencies are also highlighted in the half court.
Another thing on the offensive end that has plagued Muhammad all season has been his lack of court vision as highlighted by his 26 assists in 30 games.
Assists By Game:
4+ in One Game
3+ in One Game
2+ in Four Games
1+ in Eleven Games
0 in Thirteen Games
This season Muhammad has had six total games with 2+ assists and 13 games with zero assists. He is not the teams’ facilitator with Larry Drew II and Kyle Anderson on the floor, but part of being an elite scorer is the ability to keep the defense on the edge with the potential of making plays for others.
Looking at the scope of the NBA, every perimeter oriented scorer that was not the primary ball-handler in college managed to average at least 1+ assist per game, 15 of them were at 2+ assists per game in college. Those numbers include “selfish” scorers like Carmelo Anthony (2.2), O.J. Mayo (3.3), Jamal Crawford (4.4), and Russell Westbrook (2.5) as well as limited play-makers like Rudy Gay (1.8), DeMar DeRozan (1.4), and Klay Thompson (2.6).
That is looking at the Top 20 perimeter oriented scorers in the NBA in 2012-2013 that were not the primary ball-handlers in college. Taking it a step further, every Top 20 Scorer (no position restriction) in 2012-2013 outside of LaMarcus Aldridge (0.64) averaged at least 1.0+ assists per game in college. Not an exact science in determining scoring success in the NBA, but it is a factor in the transition.
Having the threat of the pass makes good scorers elite at the next level.
One thing that Muhammad has the ability to do is score inside 12-feet with his strength and toughness. He does not do it as much as he should or could, but as of late he has done a great job getting inside and scoring off of offensive rebounds.
The tools are there for Muhammad to be a very productive scorer at the next level. There are intangibles on the defensive end and in terms of play-making that can be improved, like every prospect that is 19 years old he has the time to work on his game. As the season has progressed he has developed his body and his game to become a productive wing scorer.
From the 2012 Nike Hoops Summit in Portland ~
To his credit Shabazz Muhammad did not tip his hand on where he was going to be attending college all throughout the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland. He was grilled endlessly about it as was his father who was in attendance for the practices and the game. Muhammad is the 2012 consensus No. 1 overall high school prospect and announced he will be playing college ball for Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins.
Playing style was a big part of Muhammad’s decision from what he told me. He is an intense player, especially in practice.
Through the three practice sessions I can honestly say I have never seen a better – harder working – practice player in my time covering basketball. Muhammad has a great energy and motor that he plays with at all times. He is relentless in trying to get better and outwork his opposition and teammates. That is a mindset that most do not have outside of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Not saying that he is the next of either, but he has the mindset to get to that level.
In running drills and general drills Muhammad was not outworked once. He brings that to the game. Everything he does in practice leads to something in the game.
Muhammad has the physical tools to be an elite wing standing a touch under 6-6 225 lbs with a 6-11 wingspan. He is built like an NBA wing right now as an incoming college freshman. His strength and body control are above average for most prospects his age. He measured out a little smaller than expected for an NBA small forward. He has good length and strength, but an additional inch or two is ideal for the small forward position.
The effort in practice shows with Muhammad’s conditioning as he played 39:03 (in a 40 minute game) with the same energy from the tip to the final horn. Muhammad was aggressive on both ends of the floor and took the challenge to guard the Worlds best wing while on the court.
Early on Muhammad was relentlessly attacking the rim looking to absorb contact and get to the line. Every play was an attempt at an And-1 showing the court awareness he has as a scorer. In the game he was able to get to the free-throw line all game going 10-11 from there, nearly double the next best for either team. The strength Muhammad has allows him to take initial contact and still get off good shots at the rim.
He is explosive off the dribble which allows Muhammad to mix in his solid mid-range game with points in the paint. When Muhammad can get to the elbow he is most effective. He has a very good mid-range jump shot that he hits with consistency.
Shooting from three is not Muhammad’s biggest strength even though he has shown the ability to knock it down in rhythm. Adding a more consistent shot from three will make his offensive game more complete overall. He is a force in transition with his ability to get out in-front of the pack and finish strong in traffic. On the break Muhammad is a nightmare with his ability to score the ball in many ways.
The measurable for Muhammad translate more to an NBA shooting guard, but his lack of consistent shooting will make that a tougher transition. Muhammad’s maturity and work ethic make him a prospect that will be successful no matter where he is or what is asked of him.