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Name: Shabazz Muhammad
Position: Small Forward
Size: 6’6″, 222lbs
Muhammad was right there with Nerlens Noel as the number one or number two recruit in the country in 2012, but now while Noel is being talked about as the potential number one pick, Muhammad is struggling to find a landing spot in the lottery. Why? One of the main reasons Muhammad is slipping is the fact that he and his father lied all season about his age. NBA scouts were all under the impression that Muhammad was 19 years old until two months ago when news broke that he was 20 going on 21.
In addition to Muhammad’s character concerns, at UCLA Muhammad was an explosive scorer, but would routinely freeze out his teammates on offense and play lazy defense on the other end of the court. Muhammad has a knack and fire for scoring the basketball that you can’t teach and his ceiling is high. On the other hand, character concerns, as well as the fear that he’s a bit undersized, make Muhammad a tainted talent.
It depends on what path the Celtics choose in the next several days. If Danny Ainge trades Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce away on draft night, it might make sense to draft a player with less character concerns, but if the Celtics decide to hold onto the vets for another year, their influence could have a huge effect on Muhammad. Ainge has never shied away from taking the most talented player available (See Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley), and when the Celtics pick at 16, Muhammad might be just that.
The Celtics need talent regardless of position, and Muhammad has the size and ability to play both shooting guard and small forward. If Muhammad can learn to be a team player and exert as much effort on defense as he does on offense, he has the potential to be a truly special player- It’s just few scouts see that happening.