Shabazz Muhammad’s career did not get off on the right foot. He was a bit of an accidental draft pick by Flip Saunders, who admitted at the time that things did not go how he planned in the 2013 draft.
Muhammad was the last player many of us wanted the Wolves to take that year, after a poor freshman season at UCLA where a lot of things, many of them his fault, went wrong. I raged about Flip that night, and caught Muhammad up in it to, and while I stand by what I wrote back then, I’m somewhat disappointed in myself for how rough I was about him.
Still, he has hung on through his rookie contract with the Wolves, sometimes flashing real scoring ability in a bench role that has been up and down throughout.
The problem with Muhammad has always been his lack of diverse skills. He scores. He doesn’t pass, he doesn’t defend, he just scores, and while sometimes he does so efficiently enough to help, most of the time he was a net negative on the court.
But he always tried. He was relentless in pursuit of baskets, whether in transition, in the low block, or off the offensive glass. Due to this, he became something of a fan favorite in some circles.
And now it appears his career in Minnesota is over. The Wolves have withdrawn his qualifying offer in order to make room to sign Taj Gibson, and Muhammad will be moving on. It will be very interesting to see where he lands and what kind of contract he can get. My guess is he will have to take a fairly small deal somewhere he can get on the floor, and try to build his value.
There were times I wondered whether Muhammad would look at the opportunities Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins were given and wonder why it wasn’t him. He must have had moments when he thought he could do just as much as those guys were doing, but instead he had to settle for scraps.
I admit I never really warmed to him...score only players are rarely my favorites. But he forced his way onto the floor after not playing as a rookie, and likely created an NBA career for himself, something I would have bet against on draft night.
So I hope Muhammad finds a landing spot that allows him to continue his assault on baskets in the NBA.
Any memories stand out for you?