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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Shabazz Muhammad


  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, freshman G/F from UCLA
  • Key Stats: 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds per game; 44 percent shooting, 38 percent three-point shooting.
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

Oh, Shabazz. You poor thing. What’s happened to Muhammad this draft season is nothing new, of course. Every year, and for a variety of reasons, a player or two who was once highly thought of suddenly becomes the WORST PLAYER IN AMERICA AND A DEFINITE BUST. It happened to Andre Drummond and Perry Jones last year. It happened to Jared Sullinger. There’s a long list of players who were expected to be selected near the top of the draft only to see their stock plummet as the draft neared. Sometimes those reasons turn out to be justified, sometimes they’re not. But Muhammad has most definitely become this year’s version of the ‘so overrated he might be underrated’ meme. There are certainly reasons for the Pistons to hesitate when selecting him or any of the other players potentially available at eight, of course. But at a certain point, Muhammad’s potential outweighs his risk, and I would probably argue that eighth overall in an intriguing but flawed draft might be the right spot.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Muhammad is the scoring wing the Pistons desperately need. He can create his own shot, he’s strong and can absorb contact and he’s an absolutely fearless scorer. He doesn’t have a reputation as a great perimeter shooter, but his percentages at UCLA actually weren’t that bad. He’s also a pretty good offensive rebounder for his position. The Pistons have had perimeter players the last few years who can get in the lane and finish, but can’t draw and absorb contact. They’ve also had players who can draw contact but cannot finish (Mr. Stuckey, looking in your direction). Muhammad should, theoretically, give them both of those things in one player if he’s able to realize his potential as a pro.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Ignoring all of the silly ‘motivation/character’ concerns that I tend to not pay much attention to with any player, Muhammad’s game does have some flaws. His conditioning wasn’t great at UCLA. He’s left-handed and struggles going right. And there have been reports that his workouts, particularly his shooting in those workouts, have not been great. Muhammad does get to the line at a reasonable rate, but he doesn’t make enough free throws once he gets there, hitting just 71 percent.

There are legitimate reasons to question Muhammad’s game. But that’s about as far as my concerns go. Andre Drummond was a perfect example last year. Often, impressionable young players caught up in dysfunctional programs don’t get the development and attention they need and aren’t held as accountable as they would be in a better-run program. Once Drummond got more structure, he excelled. The culture at UCLA was probably even more screwed up asthan the UConn program Drummond was a part of. For a team in the position the Pistons are, with money/flexibility to add to their roster through other means, making a high risk/high reward pick with Muhammad and betting that the structure that helped Drummond could also help him would be a good gamble.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

While it’s clear that Muhammad was overrated at the start of the season, it’s less clear why he’s having a hard time finding a landing spot somewhere now. He’s still a great scorer, a good offensive rebounder and plays really hard. But his flaws (no right-hand handle, trouble shooting off the bounce, so-so lateral quickness) are being blown out of proportion. Yet, this is where Muhammad is on the eve of the draft. He’s going to be playing with a very large chip on his shoulder next season.

Quick fact: Muhammad led the Pac-12 with 1.18 points per play and a 41.1 field goal percentage on guarded catch-and-shoots.


From the perimeter, Muhammad has been better than advertised this season, as his reputation coming out of high school was that of a non-shooter. He’s very good with his feet set as a catch and shoot threat, making 40% of his jumpers in this situation, which renders him a legit floor-spacer, even if his shot-selection can leave something to be desired at times. Off the dribble is another story altogether however, as Muhammad made just 12 of his 53 (23%) pull-up attempts.

While he’s wasn’t quite as effective as you might hope (13-39 from the field), Muhammad also has potential as a post-scorer, as he’s strong and skilled enough to punish similarly sized or smaller opponents in one on one situations on the block. His mature frame and relentless style of play help a lot here, and this appears to be an area in which he can continue to find success in at his position as time moves on.

On Film:



  • Jun 27, 20131:20 pm
    by Jack56


    Just saw a report that Pelicans are likely to take Burke!

    If that is true…it looks lie my hope is Pope or Bennet….BUT NOT SHAAZZ OR CARTER-WILLIAMS! 

    If Zeller gets taken early it will push down one of the top players…   

  • Jun 27, 20131:26 pm
    by Keith


    Shabazz has grown on me. Still not a first tier player, but not someone I would be upset with should he join the team. If nothing else, he is a competitor. He legitimately wants to be great and is willing to work to get there. His age, passing, and struggles as a creator off the dribble still worry me, but I think he’ll last a long time in the league. Given even guys in the top 5 have significant bust potential, I think Shabazz has a pretty set floor. He’ll eventually make open shots and has pretty high IQ. Even if he just ends up a swingman off the bench, that could be better than guys like Pope, MCW, or McCollum – given their own limitations.

  • Jun 27, 20131:34 pm
    by Jack56


    If I had the 12th pick I might pick Shabazz, but he is a slow volume scorer….I think he could have an okay career, but I’d much rather have Burke, Bennet, Pope, or Zeller.

    But I’d take Shabazz over Carter-Williams!  

  • Jun 27, 20131:37 pm
    by Sid


    “Muhammad is the scoring wing the Pistons desperately need.”
    Can we please stop with this talk that the Pistons have a critical problem at the wing?  We’re grooming young talent, Singler, Middleton, Jerebko, all of whom can score.  Is this an area in need of improvement?  Possibly.  But please stop with the over-statement.  Pistons have plenty of scorers.  Don’t really need a ball-stopper.

    • Jun 27, 20131:42 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Haha. Yeah, they’re grooming three guys who aren’t very good based on their body of work and who all have limited upside. No need to look for upgrades, folks. Nothing to see here.

      • Jun 27, 20131:48 pm
        by Jack56


        Welcome back Patrick.!

      • Jun 27, 20133:16 pm
        by Jamarco McNutt


        Are you utterly insane????????????????????  The Pistons have scorers?????  Maybe the least scorers in the league.  Well bottom 5 anyway.  If you are truly counting Singler and Middleton and Knight as scorers you are either 12 years old or just dumb.  This team needs high percentage scorers in the worst way not bums like rodney stuckey.  Is Shabazz high percentage?  IDK.  But that is what the team needs.  I rather have Shabazz or CJ than pope or carter williams though.

        • Jun 27, 20133:31 pm
          by G


          MCW… (shiver)… That guy’s shot is as dry as the Kalahari.

    • Jun 27, 20131:44 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      You cant be serious…

      Singler got worst as the season progressed…. Jonas is a Stretch 4….and Middleton sample of work is soo small you just dont know what you have…

      I like shabazz, but if we trade of out the lottery… and got the 17th and 18th pick…

      I would take Glen rice Jr and Franklin …. just to get more athletic,

      I also feel singler is gonna be traded… he doesnt fit what Mo cheeks does, on offense or defense…

    • Jun 27, 20131:46 pm
      by Keith


      I would still say our wings are a problem. I don’t think SF is any bigger of an issue than SG, or PG. Does Detroit need a scorer? Yes, but it’s not as simple as that. Detroit needs an efficient scorer who can also impact the game in other ways. Detroit NEEDS a true lead player on the perimeter (a la Lebron, Durant, Wade, Westbrook, Harden, young Kobe). But there aren’t any of those caliber players in this draft, nor free agency. 

      I never like it when someone says, “Detroit needs a scorer” too, but it’s because most media members and fans have no idea what the difference is between any scorer and a good scorer. Detroit already has guys that take a bunch of shots, what Detroit needs is a player that MAKES a lot of shots.


      • Jun 27, 20131:49 pm
        by Patrick Hayes


        Chauncey Billups didn’t make a lot of shots, and he was still an efficient scorer because he got to the line and hit the three at a good rate. Muhammad can certainly be that type of player, only bigger. He already gets to the line. And despite all of the hand-wringing over his lack of range, he shot 37 percent from three last season. He has to hit more of his free throws, he has to get in better shape, he has to turn it over less and he has to continue to work on his three-point shot. All of those things are doable.

        • Jun 27, 20132:31 pm
          by Keith


          That’s exactly what I mean. Chauncey was incredibly efficient because he was a great three point shooter and knew to take those shots. Saying Detroit just needs “a scorer” is wrong. Stuckey is a scorer. Knight is a scorer. Heck, Charlie Villanueva is a scorer. Monta Ellis in free agency is a scorer. We don’t need guys who just know how to take shots, we need people who actually make an offense better. Chauncey made a ton of the best shots on the floor (threes and free throws). We need more of that.

          • Jun 27, 20132:38 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            To me, those guys you list off aren’t scorers. Even if Knight, Stuckey and Villanueva take a lot of shots, they still don’t score a lot. Ellis scored a lot in Golden State, but not so much in Milwaukee.

            So yeah, when I say ‘scorer,’ my preference is obviously someone who scores efficiently. But if the Pistons could get a player who scores a lot albeit somewhat inefficiently (like Melo), I’d probably take that too.

            At any rate, you seem to be suggesting that Muhammad can’t be that kind of guy who scores a lot by hitting threes and getting to the line a lot. If that’s what you’re suggesting, I disagree … I think he was reasonably good at both of those things as a freshman at a college program that was dysfunctional. With a pro team with more structure, I think it’s conceivable Muhammad could blossom into a versatile, dynamic and efficient scoring wing. Like I said, he has to make more free throws and he has to continue working to extend his range, but neither of those things are out of the question.

          • Jun 27, 20132:56 pm
            by Keith

            I think perhaps we are arguing the same side. I’m really not saying Shabazz can’t be that player. In fact, I said further up his ability to hit open shots even if he doesn’t develop as a shot creator will keep him in the league a long time. I think he has as a floor as a swingman off the bench. What I was initially trying to point out is that the floor of a quality rotation player is still higher than the floor of a guys like Pope, MCW, and McCollum. Pope has a lot projected from the role he played on his team, and we don’t know if he can actually better in a smaller role. MCW, should he never develop a jump shot, will be out of the league after his rookie contract. McCollum needs to be able to play a little PG or become a quality spark plug scorer just to end up as a 6th man – something with a lot of projection considering his age and missing most of last year.

            But my point on the scorer issue is the same. I don’t want chuckers with high FGA or PPG averages. Those guys aren’t going to help our offense. We need efficiency. Melo isn’t actually a great example because even with his usage he’s been at or above league average efficiency 7 out of 10 years. I DO understand that there is often an inverse relationship between efficiency and usage. It’s why Kobe was still one of the greatest despite never being as efficient as Durant has been. It’s why Durant is already considered one of the greatest scorers ever – because he’s somehow both one of the highest usage and highest efficiency players in the league. It’s why Lebron and Jordan were so unstoppable, they remained amazing no matter how many shots they took.

            I’m saying we don’t need a scorer the way TNT commentators and a lot of fans use the word “scorer.” What they are really talking about is someone who takes a bunch of shots and scores a lot of point. I would hope Piston fans had learned their lesson after the AI debacle, but it seems the rest of the media hasn’t always caught on. (Also, understand I’m not talking about PP in terms of that uninformed media, you guys have always been good about understand the difference between hype and production) 

          • Jun 27, 20133:04 pm
            by I HATE FRANK

            finally some sensable people!…

            IMO… Shabazz is the most versatile scorer in the draft….its scarey when a guy has the a good season like shabazz did…. through media scrutiny, playing out position, playing in a different style than he was use to, he was overweight, and he played through injuries…

            But still managed 18ppg 44% 37.7% for 3 …5rebs…. the areas of improvement like assist and defense can improve….But being a natural scorer, is like being a natural rebounder, or a natural passer …. Its gonna translate to the NBA… you do what you do well and work on the other stuff as you go along

    • Jun 27, 20131:50 pm
      by Huddy


      “Pistons have plenty of scorers.  Don’t really need a ball-stopper” Wow just wow.  Why is it they aren’t in the playoffs then?  They might as well be charitable and hand out the pick to someone that has more need for improvement.
      Jerebko has never been a scorer he is just a hustle player.  Singler doesn’t look like the kind of player that will EVER make his own shot…not bad just isn’t a go to scorer.  What could the team’s critical problem be then? 

  • Jun 27, 20132:07 pm
    by count that baby and a foul


    “There are certainly reasons for the Pistons to hesitate when selecting him or any of the other players potentially available at nine, of course.”

    Do you think we should be more worried about who is available at 8 when we pick instead of 9 when we are done picking in the first round?

  • Jun 27, 20132:15 pm
    by Jack56


    I want either Burke, Bennett, Pope, or Zeller of the guys we have a shot at.

  • Jun 27, 20132:35 pm
    by Brandon Knight


    I have a feeling that McLemore will fall tonight.

    • Jun 27, 20133:25 pm
      by I HATE FRANK


      Heres the thing..only a few teams actually need another scorer or wing player like Mclemore

      Cavs – dont they have Waiters unless they draft him to trade him (len/or Noel)
      Orlando - dont unless they trade Affalo (Victor oladipo , or Burke)
      Wizard – dont they just got Beal, unless they draft to trade him (otto Porter /Bennett)
      Bobcats – Maybe , but they dont have not legit (Big Len/Noel or Zeller)
      Suns – they really dont been a wing player, they have Wesley johnson, Jared and shannon brown…but they Need a scorer (Still believe McCullom)
      Pelican – Dont they have Gordon, unless they are gonna trade Gordon (Burke , Zeller / Bennett)
      Kings – All signs point to Carter-williams or Burke ( they have Marcus Thorton, Isiah Thomas, Tyreke on a quifying offer, and Jimmer) and they said they want to rebuild…
      Pistons – Mclemore, Bennett, or Olapido will be here…. For the record, Oladipo  athleticsm is exiting to think about the WHAT IF, he is really thr Next D-WADE, but in reallity Shabazz is the better fit

      • Jun 27, 20133:49 pm
        by G


        Your weak link there is Phoenix. Also, Afflalo probably isn’t good enough to keep McLemore off the board, and as you mentioned, the Bobcats would like him but have other needs as well.

        The question should be if McLemore’s talent out-weighs need at other positions, and at some point it flips & he should be taken regardless of roster.

  • Jun 27, 20132:53 pm
    by frankie d


    feel about muhammad the way i feel about KCP.  
    not a bad player, but someone who is not really special.
    is he a scorer? sure.  but lots of nba guys are scorers and end  up as the 7th or 8th guy in a rotation because they don’t do anything else.  i could easily see muhammad turning into that kind of player.
    i saw a quote, somewhere, about muhammad, that rang very true.
    the writer mused that if muhammad was such a hard worker, how come he doesn’t have a right hand?  how come his game is so limited?
    WTF has he been working so hard at?
    with muhammad, i see an aggressive, but physically limited wing guy who will have trouble doing what he did in high school and in college because he will be going up against better athletes and he’ll have to share the ball – and shots – with 4 other pros.
    ucla may have been dysfunctional, but their offense was still structured around getting shabazz shots, as evidenced by the fact that he came in as a freshman and led the team by a large margin.
    (very different for drummond who truly got ignored for long stretches at the offensive end.)
    and about the structure needed for him to prosper in detroit?
    i got a good laugh about that.  go back and read about mo cheeks’ blazers.  structure – on the court and off the court – is not something i’d associate with his coaching style.  in fact, lack of structure is one of the defining characteristics about cheeks’ approach.  he wants his players to give max effort defensively and then he pretty much lets them do whatever the heck they want offensively.
    can’t think of a worst situation for a player like muhammad – an inefficient volume shooter – to come into as a young player.
    i’m hoping joe d has a stroke of rationality and passes on shabazz.  unfortunately, his cheeks’ hiring has me very, very afraid about his choices in the draft and free agency.  wouldn’t be surprised to see him draft shabazz and sign josh smith to a max contract.
    god save the pistons! 

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