Shabazz Muhammad is a product of nature and nurture. Muhammad was practically groomed to be an NBA superstar. His father had a vision of his son’s destiny before he was even born and both his parents were elite athletes. However, his first and only collegiate season at UCLA was riddled with controversy and underwhelming play.
He's no longer perceived as a top-ten pick, surprising, since the general consensus was that he'd be a lottery pick regardless of his disappointing season. Muhammad still posted 18 points a game in the Pac-12 as a freshman and is physically superior to 2013 shooting guard prospects such as Ben McLemore. However, according to NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper, that may not be a safe bet anymore based on his combine workouts. According to some reports, his floor could be tthe middle of the first round.
We’ve seen this play out before. Geno Smith’s been swiftboated by character assassins since the NFL Draft process began. Conversely, one league executive gave NBA.com, a conflicting report on Muhammad’s character during the combine.
“It’s his overall attitude,” that executive said. “His presentation of himself. It’s an all-about-me presentation. I think that’s his biggest knock…. His selfish tendencies on the floor show up at certain times. But that’s what scorers do.”
Either he’s abnormally self-centered or he’s got a scorer’s mentality. Which one is it? To me, that doesn’t sound like a damning observation, but it’s framed like it and sold to the masses. The knock on McLemore is that he isn't selfish enough. It's a scouting paradox. Muhammad left behind a program in turmoil at UCLA, but the sharks were already circling Howland back when Muhammad was swimming in the hoops kiddie pool.
The revelation that he was a year older than he was reported to be was a blow to his rep, but that also appeared to be his father’s doing.
Ultimately, Muhammad’s not an elite prospect, but the NBA Draft combine is as useless as a pager in 2013. Muhammad’s a superior talent in this draft, and there are a plethora of squads that have been watching the playoffs from home that could use him on their roster.