Minnesota Timberwolves Draft Prospect: Shabazz Muhammad


Shabazz Muhammed, UCLA

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Positives: You wanna talk about wingspan? It may not appear that a 6’6 small forward is an overly special thing, but a 6’6 small forward with a 6’11 1/4 wingspan is a special thing. Coupled with his athleticism, this could make him a good defender some day. Notice how I said “someday”? The knock on Muhammad is that he gives an inconsistent effort on defense, like another Bruin we all know and Love (See what I did there?), but that effort is apparently determined by his performance on offense, which tells me that he’s a young player who needs a coach to ingrain that defensive mindset in him regardless. So, to me, having that room to grow despite not being a good defender now is a positive. And if Rick Adelman could get Derrick Williams to exert some energy on defense with fewer physical tools, then he could with Muhammad — I hope.

Of course, the big thing about Muhammad is his ability as a scorer and his ability as a spot-up shooter; the latter of which could be of especially great value to the Timberwolves. While he may not be a strong pick and roll player now, playing next to Ricky Rubio will either make him work to improve that, or not and be a less than ideal fit. Still, he’s an above average college shooter, which tells me he can at least be an average NBA shooter and with the Timberwolves being a below-average shooting team, that would be an upgrade.

He also happens to be a decent rebounder for his position, which isn’t guaranteed to translate to the NBA, but if he has the instincts and the physical tools that could very well carry over to the next level.

Negatives: Well, there is his defense, but that is fixable. He also doesn’t make a ton of plays for others, but if he’s going to play for Rick Adelman he is going to have to or he won’t play. Ideally, the combination of playing with superior teammates against opponents with superior talent and physical ability will force him to be less-selfish at times. However, given his age I don’t see anything here that isn’t fixable, which is encouraging.

I’m also not worried about his lone tournament performance. It’s a small sample size against inferior competition, with inferior teammates, and every player has bad games.

Bottom Line: Muhammad is a young player who has strong offensive skills and is also a quality rebounder for his position. However, he does have a lot of room to grow, but certainly can as long as he is willing to work and lands in the right fit and system.

Timberwolves Fit: If Adelman returns to the bench this could be a great place for him to improve his passing, defense, and expand his offensive game. Currently, he would work great with the second unit as a scorer, but I am curious how he would perform next to a high-usage player like Kevin Love, especially being one himself. As I said above, the Timberwolves could use a strong spot up shooter to knock down shots, something they missed (no pun intended) this season.

If everything goes right, Muhammad could be a steal at the Timberwolves’ draft slot.

About Derek James

In addition to writing for Howlin' T-Wolf, Derek James writes about basketball Hardwood Paroxysm in the ESPN TrueHoop Network and covers the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation’s Rufus on Fire. Andray Blatche and Isaiah Rider follow him on Twitter.