Shabazz Muhammad: Phoenix Suns 2013 NBA Draft profile


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISAOSMA2kP8&w=560&h=315]

Strengths

The problem with many of the 2013 draft prospects in the top-5 isn’t Shabazz Muhammad’s problem. And that’s a compliment. The former UCLA Bruins swingman plays with a fearless offensive aggression and considering his talent, that’s enough for him to have averaged 17.9 points per game as a college freshman.

Muhammad is especially great coming off screens. The lefty has a consistent stroke while moving to get open off the ball. He also can score off his aggressive crashing of the glass. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has a 6-foot-11 wingspan, and it’s his pointed goal of attacking the offensive glass and pushing the ball off defensive rebounds that puts him in position to score.

According to Draft Express, Muhammad was the most prolific small forward with 4.8 possessions of offense on fastbreaks, though he was second-worse in scoring there at 0.98 points per possession.

Question marks

For Muhammad’s aggression being his strong suit, it’s his efficiency that is a glaring weakness. At UCLA, he scored 0.95 points per possession, which was fourth-last among small forwards, according to Draft Express. Oddly enough, it’s not that Muhammad’s shot selection was all that out of the rhythm of Ben Howland’s offense. Rather, it could be that he’s simply not that good of a shooter.

Muhammad will fight the label as a chucker rather than a high-IQ player. He also doesn’t have much of a right hand nor any moves to exactly free himself to blow by defenders.

Furthermore, Muhammad’s rank as one of the best players coming out of high school – like this year’s draft, there were hardly any stars in his recruiting class – might have created the assumption that he is an elite athlete, which he’s not. He is very strong but he’s not a above-the-rim scorer, which hurts his ability to finish around the basket in traffic and with contact.

In general, his ranking in that ‘blah’ recruiting class made his draft stock misleadingly high.

And defensively, Muhammad has ability but lacks the consistency to be relied upon at this point.

X-factor

Overall, Muhammad is a talented, aggressive player but his handling of himself as a bonafide star is misleading and likely to strike him once he’s competing daily in the NBA. Hence is why his draft stock has fallen to where it should’ve been all along.

Above all the skill and efficiency question marks, Muhammad’s career will depend on his willingness to put his me-first attitude aside. While it’s great to see aggression, he must prove he’s willing – who knows if he’s able – to defer to his teammates.

The controversy over his age did little to help the aura of Muhammad. Is he someone who simply wants to get where he wants to go, or does he really want to become a legitimate NBA player?

How he fits with the Suns

Muhammad has quickly fallen from the Suns’ No. 5 position but could be around should they somehow acquire a later lottery pick. If he’s on the board and Phoenix for some reason is still looking for a scorer to put alongside – or behind – their No. 5 pick, it’s hard to say Muhammad’s instincts won’t fit well with what Jeff Hornacek is trying to do. He’ll push the ball in transition, be a capable spot-up shooter off the bat and in time could develop into a very good defender.

And as bad as his efficiency might be, Muhammad isn’t quite the ball dominating isolation player a la Michael Beasley, so for that he’d at least get his shots within the flow of halfcourt sets.

He shot 37 percent from three-point range in college, which isn’t great but definitely shows he can become better with work.

Tags: 2013 NBA Draft Shabazz Muhammad

  • BCrayZ

    Why do we need another questionable wing?

    VO will probably be taken by someone else. Take Trey instead of Bazz.

    We already have a known quantity in LB who wants to come back to the team, at less than a rookie’s cost. He is a born “go-to” scorer who still should have some good years left. Plus, he meshes well with Dud, Gogi & Frye. How is Frye?

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • DBreezy

    If you’re talking about putting him behind/beside another wing picked 5, I don’t think it can be BMac. Same goes for putting VO with BMac but that doesn’t appear to be a realistic possibility. As the Vots draft preview said, BMac will likely have to be handled with kid gloves to an extent and I can’t see an aggressive on court personality like Bazz of VO meshing there. They’d be after him in practice every day.

    Not only in regard to Bazz, but in general I wonder why more isn’t made of Horny likely using all or part of Sloan’s offense in the half court? The ability to come of screens, make reads on cuts and postup ability seem to be at a premium in that offense yet it doesn’t seem like its been talked about much. The addition of Longabardi presents the possibility that elements of Doc’s offense could come in as well.

  • Scott

    It’s hard to say what we’ve got coming from coaching, or what the ultimate effect will be, because we don’t know the personnel on the court. Gotta wait for the draft, see what the Suns do. Gotta wait for SL and the start of FA.

    Like several here I’m hoping for a fairly large scale clean out of the roster, but even if the Suns FO wants the same thing, it may not be do-able. Every trade requires an interested 2nd party.

    It could be that after the dust settles, we find that the Suns add just the expected 2 or 3 picks and keep all the contracted people on the team (so no Johnson, O’Neal, or Garrett).

  • Dan.c133

    After watching several of the Simmons/Rose interviews two that impressed me the most was V.O and CJ M. They were well spoken and thoughtful with their responses and knew their game. That said CJ seemed to have the higher BBall IQ of the 2. He seems to have a strong grasp of breaking down plays and how to use film to its full advantage. I think either will be a solid player for the Suns. I loved that when asked about his shooting if Steph Curry is a 10 where would he rate himself and without any hesitation CJ said he is a 9. His stock went up a Lot with me after that interview. I could only hope we get him and Rice jr drops to 30 for us. I can see plenty of potential in both of them and could see coach Jeff playing some 3 guard line ups utilizing them with Dragic.

    I saw a quote {might be in that post article on R Sampson} where Gortat really learned a lot from Sampson and even if he got traded, he would want to keep him around even if he had to pay Sampson himself.

    I definitely don’t want to see Bennett in a suns jersey. I live in vegas and while he can score, he takes too many plays off on defense and can seem at times to get lost on plays not set up for him. Whoever compared him to former greats Larry Johnson and Sir Charles needs to put down the kool-aid. He isn’t fit to even carry their luggage. The closest he’ll ever get to the all star game will be the rookie game.

    As for Ben Mc the more I see the less I like. The only thing I see that resembles Ray Allen is the stroke. Ray Allen had/has a true killer instinct that I just don’t see in Ben. He seems like a great kid that’s had a tough life and I wish him all the best but, we need guys with some swagger and a bit of assassin in them.

  • dponce

    i absolutely think Shabazz is under rated! this time a year ago i was hoping we’d be bad enough to draft this guy, thought maybe we would have to get him at number 1. his draft stock slipped because he didnt dominate. he still had a very good year. hes physically perfect for the 2 and his scoring mentality will fit perfectly with the suns. take mclemore if hes there, but i dont think he will be. shabazz will better than olidipo. do the right thing suns!

  • Scott

    I think Shabazz *could* be good, if you assume he’s going to keep on adding to his game. What he does now is of relatively low value in the NBA.

    Right now he’s just a catch and shoot player who can come off screens. He’s not a dedicated defender, or a rim-attacking slasher, or a guy who can make plays for himself, or a guy who can make plays for others.

    I’m not against him, but his value really depends on his IQ, scoring aggression, and work ethic … and in this case it’s his IQ that is the sticking point. Normally IQ will show up in creation skills and passing skills and court vision, which it looks like he lacks.

    So this is one time where the personal scouting interview really counts.

    If I didn’t have some strong evidence he had IQ, I would not take him.

  • DBreezy

    Zeller and Bazz are two guys who failed to lived up to the lofty projections placed upon them at the outset of the college season. It’s par for the course these days, Barnes, PJ3, and Sully (pre-back injury) all took hits last season during this time.

    It’s very hard for fans, pundits, and many GM’s to tune out the noise that starts in the tourney and continues till draft day. I think this is the most underrated skill of the Spurs and Spurs disciple GM’s. They let all of the other teams talk themselves out of players often leaving them with a guy who was highly rated all year long by scouts until ‘silly season’ started. For that reason, it didn’t surprise me to read yesterday that Ferry is looking to move up into the top 7 with Bazz as his target.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    He has an extended interview with Simmons/Rose on YouTube and the reports I’ve read have said he did very well in his workouts and interviews during the process. Currently I think his IQ shows most in his offensive understanding of angles and how to put himself in good position to score or get fouled. That should improve as long as he continues working on his dribbling and attack skills. That seems reasonable to expect as even his biggest detractors admit he’s a hard worker.

    He absolutely needs work on passing. I don’t expect him to be Harden or Wade, but there’s no reason he can’t learn to make the proper simple passes within an offense to keep things going. That will lean heavily on the coach and their system imo.

    I don’t expect that the Suns will take him at 5, but he definitely could be in the mix if they pick up another lottery pick. In fact I’m starting to wonder if McD would walk away very happy if he could snag Zeller and Bazz in this draft?

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    I would worry that Shabazz would be another Shannon Brown, except he shoots off the catch rather than off the dribble.

    They tried to make Brown into a PG, and actually he did some of his best work last season as a secondary playmaker for the Suns. But that quality has been a long time coming from him. His primary instinct is to catch the ball and start dribbling while he tries to create a play for himself.

    Somewhat like that, it seems Muhammad has severe tunnel vision once the ball enters his hands.

    Austin Rivers is another of this type.

    I would feel a lot more comfortable if I knew he could find other players on the court with the ball.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    I don’t see him as being like Shannon. Coming into the league, Shannon was more along the lines of what Westbrook was, an athletic, attacking combo guard with good defensive skills, who needed work on his shooting and pg skills. We all know how the pg and defensive stuff went although I think the Cavs expected too much from him.

    Bazz isn’t nearly as athletic and no one will be trying to make him into a playmaker. Just understand the O and situations and make the appropriate pass within the system sort of like a young Kobe or Ray Allen neither of whom were playmakers.

    Austin Rivers lacks explosion, but he’s different from Bazz and a lot ofthe guards at the top of the draft in that he does have a good handle and breakdown ability. That gets him into trouble because he needs the ball to be effective and as you noted he’s not much of a passer. Bazz mostly attacks off of screens, curls and in the post. It’s not like he’s dribbling around for 20 secs and hoisting a shot like some of these half ass draft pundits would have people think.

    It will be interesting to watch from afar, as I doubt he will be a Sun. I’m actually interested to see what happens if he goes to Minny as there are a lot of things about that setup that would be good for him. Great coach who will get him simple looks to finish, a great pg who won’t put him in bad situations decision wise, a fellow UCLA alum, and an out of the spotlight situation to grow. I think the latter was a boon to Harrison Barnes who was in a similar position last year.

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    Muhammad isn’t dribbling around for a long time – quite possibly – because his handle isn’t good, he can only go left, and his shot off the dribble sucks. That could be the whole reason why he does the catch and shoot.

    If he ever learns to shoot off the dribble, he could be exactly like Brown.

    Now, I’m not at all saying that will definitely be the case with him. I think there’s too little data to tell either way, at least for me.

    And if other scouts are thinking the same thing – that his IQ / court vision just isn’t there – then it would help explain why his draft stock has dropped.

    On DX, he’s fallen clear out of the lottery.