Shabazz Muhammad was never supposed to be here. Here as in, in the “sleeper” category. ‘Bazz was a highly rated, consistently discussed, prospect coming out of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman HS. He was the 2012 McDonald’s Game MVP and a SLAM Magazine diarist, for Pete’s sake. He went to UCLA with a bunch of hoopla and was poised to dominate the Pac-12 en route to March Madness glory.
However, as we know now, the story went way off the tracks. Though the 6´6 shooting guard averaged 18 points and five rebounds (but less than one assist) as a frosh, he made more news for all the negative things that happened. He was named the Pac-12’s Co-Freshman of the Year, but his season was about as unsettled as it gets. He caught a lot of flack for the Bruins poor defensive play, had national writers accusing him of impropriety because he was seen sporting a Gucci bag, and caused a minor scandal when it came out that he lied about his age.
It was actually his father that lied about his age, making him younger, and thus, a more enticing prospect. Muhammad and his family came off as problematic for some because of the scheming. But whatever, it's a victimless crime.
Still, it probably contributed to his current estimation. His stock coming into the season was top-three caliber, but he slid all the way down to pick 14, where the Jazz took him as requested by Minnesota for a subsequent trade.
With the way the season went, it’s easy to point the blame at Muhammad; until you remember that Ben Howland was running the show out there in Bruinsville. A lot of guys underachieved under his tutelage, and the minute they hit the League, they turn into stars (guys like former Sixer's PG Jrue Holiday). Muhammad is a dedicated scorer with a great deal of confidence. His style is pro ready and he’ll make a difference on a rising Timberwolves squad that also picked up Louisville Center Gorgui Dieng.
Playing along side pass-happy Ricky Rubio will only enhance Muhammad’s game, as will playing with one of the best forwards in the league in Kevin Love. He might not start right away, but make no mistake: ‘Bazz ain’t no bench dude who’s gonna come in for 12 minutes a night. The Minnesota coaching staff will soon find out (that is, if they want to keep their jobs) that his offensive impact can significantly help a team.