RENO, Nev. — He’s not the first lottery pick to feel the slap of being told he was getting shipped to the NBA D-League.
But after a few days of self pity, Shabazz Muhammad came to the conclusion that it might be just what he needed.
“It’s giving me a chance to maybe reset and restart where I should have been coming into the NBA,” said the Timberwolves’ rookie after he scored 24 points for the Iowa Energy at the D-League Showcase. “I don’t think I was aggressive enough when I played in summer league. I don’t think I showed enough to the coaches and to the team that I was ready.”
The MVP of the 2012 McDonald’s All-American Game and regarded by many as the top player in his college class, Muhammad was drafted by Minnesota with the 14th pick last June. Following his underwhelming performance in the summer, he was sent home from the league’s rookie orientation. Reports said he had a female guest in his room.
“It was all humbling and it’s not the way I envisioned starting out my NBA career,” Muhammad said. “I know a lot of people have been looking at me because of the high profile that I had in high school.”
He’s managed to get onto the floor in only 11 games for the Wolves, playing an average of just 3.8 minutes.
“On the one hand, you want to stay at the NBA level and hope that things can improve,” Muhammad said. “But after I got the news that they wanted me to come here to the Showcase, and spending some time with the Energy, it set in that getting a chance to run for some real minutes and play in game conditions was the best way for me to get better and to show the coaching staff that I’m committed to improving.”
Muhammad said he tries to ignore the hurtful and sometimes personal criticism that comes from social media.
“It’s easy to take shots at people and I guess it’s easier when it’s a guy like me that has a name that’s been out there for a while,” he said. “I can’t worry about that stuff or let it get to me.
“I believe I can be a productive NBA player. I know I wasn’t fully prepared and didn’t show all of the necessary things coming into this season. But that’s why I’m here now. I’m not gonna pout about being here. The goal is to prove that I can do all of the things the Wolves want and this is all part of that.”