March 15, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UCLA Bruins guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad (15) celebrates after the game against the Arizona Wildcats in the semifinal round of the Pac 12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. UCLA defeated Arizona 66-64. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Shabazz Muhammad Stinks (as a teammate)

The red flags surrounding Shabazz Muhammad keep popping up. If you take a look at his plummeting draft stock, they’re everywhere. It doesn’t really help a Wolves fan sleep at night that the only teams he’s consistently been rumored to still be drawing interest from are the Wolves and Detroit Pistons.

Not great company.

One of the latest hit pieces comes from CBS Sports Doug Gottlieb, deals in some absurd language and hyperbole, and yet isn’t drastically different from the usual rumblings going around. Lazy journalism? To be sure — but it’s the way it’s being dragged around that could lead to trouble.

In the Gottlieb piece it mentions Shabazz being a coach killer, and it plays too well into the knucklehead-fixing ways of Minnesota professional sports — he needs a good environment, our best players lead by example, he’ll fall in line, whatever — the idea that your situation good be the one to nurture a hyped up guy like Shabazz, like Beasley or (if you like tragicomic) Darko, and he could “get it” on your watch and be your success story of a great turnaround is too much to even entertain.

The possibility is enough to plug your nose and hope to avoid the train wreck.

Shabazz Muhammad will be taken in the first half of the first round of the NBA Draft on June 27. But he shouldn’t be.

I’m not here to say he shouldn’t be drafted at all or that he doesn’t belong in the NBA. This is not one of those unfair “hater” pieces that brings in personal feelings about a certain player or puts too much stock in off-the-court perceptions. Most of this is pure analysis based upon the player, the league and the situation he is likely to be put in, though I’ll admit his father being charged with fraud on Thursday is worrying.

I would not take Muhammad in the first round at all, and reason No. 1 is his skill level.

He’s a 6-foot-5 small forward who is a very average athlete with some “old man body” to him. Muhammad is too small to play as he always has if he wants to play the position in the NBA. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Luol Deng and Klay Thompson are all bigger and more athletic three-men. If he’s too small to play his usual position and not athletic enough to make up for the lack of size and skill, where does that leave him?

Additionally, small forwards at the next level bring multiple skills to the table. But in his one year at UCLA Muhammad didn’t defend, didn’t really rebound unless it was the offensive boards, and never passed. Consider that he played in 32 games and had a total of 27 assists despite averaging 30 minutes a game. Read that sentence again. Wow.

Muhammad also stinks as a teammate. We all saw the pouting on the floor after his teammate Larry Drew hit the game-winner versus Washington last season, when Shabazz was shouting for the ball. I have been told by multiple sources that such behavior was the norm. When Muhammad didn’t get his touches, didn’t get his numbers, he was totally disconnected from his team.

His arrogance and lack of desire to be coached was apparent to all who watched.

“Shabazz was only about Shabazz, go back and look at how he came out of [games] — he would not walk close to Ben [Howland],” one UCLA source told me. Translation: coach killer.

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Tags: Draft Busts NBA Draft Nba Draft Profiles Nba Player Profiles Shabazz Muhammad Ucla Ucla Bruins University Of California Los Angeles

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