In Defense Of Shabazz Muhammad

a

Time passed, team workouts progressed, the reality of the draft set in, and suddenly Shabazz Muhammad isn’t so toxic.

The new perspective heading into the last full week before the draft is that Muhammad is still a possibility for the top 10, still appreciated for his scoring potential, and maybe even appreciated more than any time during his one-and-done UCLA career. Welcome to the recovery. Or at least the stability.

This isn’t nearly the early-season conversation of Muhammad on course to be one of the first three picks in the draft and possibly even No. 1 itself, but it’s also a lot different than a month ago, when it wasn’t hard to find a front office hammering Muhammad for selfish play while predicting Muhammad would plummet entirely out of the lottery.

What changed?

The view, for one thing. There are concerns about Muhammad’s ability to fit into a team, but good luck finding a player in this draft who doesn’t have big holes. The closer the draft got, the more players went under the microscope in workouts for individual teams, the more the realization set in that he is still one of the better options in an underwhelming class. Nothing has changed on one important front: He remains one of the top scoring threats on the board and a player eight months ago considered to have tremendous upside, and those are commodities that cannot be overlooked.

The auditions, for another. Muhammad got directly in front of executives and scouts for individual team workouts.

“Say what you will about him, but his work ethic is great,” one personnel boss said. “He might have the best work ethic in the draft. Seriously. He’s one of those guys you have to drag out of the gym.”

The talk of top three is long gone, but top 10, a possible outcome, would be a nice save. There are several safety nets in place for Muhammad to avoid that other potential finish, dropping out of the lottery. One of those, in the latest NBA.com mock draft, is No. 13 to the Mavericks, a team with O.J. Mayo possibly leaving as a free agent and Vince Carter getting closer to retirement.

Other draft notes as the push to June 27 continues:

  • St. Mary’s point guard Matthew Dellavedova is making an under-the-radar move. Though hardly one of the big names, the Australian has enhanced his chances for the second round and assured at the very least that he will get a chunk of guaranteed money for summer league and training camp as an undrafted free agent if it comes to that. Point guards who can run pick-and-roll always have value to the NBA, and Dellavedova can do it with precision. Good showings at group workouts hosted by the Nets and Timberwolves boosted his stock.
  • Great, and unique, praise, for Maryland center Alex Len, at No. 4 to the Bobcats in the latest mock despite not being able to work out for teams because of injury. Said one executive: “He should touch the ball every possession. He’s very smart.” Charlotte is a tough read because it has so many possible directions to go, but there is one important factor to keep in mind. Logically, Michael Jordan & Co. can’t have two non-scoring forwards, and 2012 lottery pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the future at small forward without being able to hit a shot yet. That makes Anthony Bennett, UNLV’s talented stretch-four, an excellent fit. Some front offices have Bennett as high as No. 3 on their prospect rankings, if not their actual mock with teams needs factored in.
  • Monday is the deadline for international prospects to withdraw from the draft. Dario Saric remains the focus of the waiting game, with his agent having said the Croation small forward projecting to the middle of the first round and possibly late-lottery will wait until 2014, but some NBA clubs are not entirely convinced.

9 Comments

  1. GBreeza says:

    I love how you just compared Tyreke Evans to Shabazz. If Shabazz had Tyrekes skill set than there wouldn’t be this convo. Tyreke is not the problem in Sacremento. He’s not even streaky he puts buckets in and penetrates defenses

  2. John smart says:

    I don’t know why everyone hates shabazz. Every team in the lottery could do with a scorer. Good shooters are very important. Just ask spurs and the heat. All of their shooting threats don’t need to break you down off the dribble. They just get open and fire. I reckon Detroit and shabazz is a good fit. Drummond Monroe shabazz stuckey knight. Could go ok.

    • AL says:

      Amen to that Brother

      • Rodrigo says:

        I also think Shabazz would be a good fit in Detroit. I probable put him at the 2 instead of Stuckey. The problema would be defense. But i think would be a great fit.
        Put:
        – PG: Brandon Knight
        – SG: Shabazz Muhammad
        – SF: Kyle SIngler
        – PF: Greg Monroe
        – C: Andre Drummond

        Stuckey would be a spark off the bench. You have a playoff team in 2 years.

  3. steppx says:

    and as a follow up……..while I dont buy Shabaaz ‘ work ethic, I do think Len is going to be a guy who makes himself better. Bennett I dont know. Id be leery of bennet, much as i think he is hugely talented. Honestly……i still like Adams and Schroder the best. I can see them as guys who COULD become all stars. I supose McLemore too, and Olidipo. But thats it. I dont see the upside on anyone else. Maybe tony mitchell if he gets a personality transplant.

  4. steppx says:

    I love Dalledova, so this doesnt surprise me at all. I think there are about four point guards listed as second rounders, who can find homes…..Peyton Siva, Ray McCallum Kabongo, Wolters, Pierre Jackson even… and honestly I like them all as much as Burke.

    As for shabaaz….I wouldnt touch him with a third round pick. I dont buy his work ethic frankly. I see him as guy who WONT score in the NBA. He takes advantage of weak defenders….but he reminds me most in a way of Tyreke evans…not the handle, but the same sort of cant play with others game. I dont know if he is selfish personally, but his game is.