Shabazz Muhammad: Timberwolves 2015-16 Player Preview


This is the fifth piece in a series of articles that will look at each individual player on the Timberwolves’ roster heading into the 2015-16 season. See the links at the bottom of this page for previous players previewed.

Shabazz Muhammad may have been the most efficient scorer for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season. Unfortunately, an injury forced his season to be cut short to just 38 games.

This off-season, Muhammad has apparently been working hard to stay in shape. A big knock on him during his rookie season was that he was lazy and out of shape, and it showed with his performance. He erased that perception last season, and he seems determined to keep it that way. Muhammad tweeted the below photo on September 19th.

Yeah, I don’t think conditioning is a problem for him.

In this post, I’ll look at Muhammad’s 2014-15 performance and look at what to expect in 2015-16. What kind of role will Muhammad serve? Can he fill the sixth-man role? Where can Muhammad improve his game?


Muhammad is nothing special defensively, and it’s definitely an area he can work on. But, he hasn’t been too bad, and that’s a good thing when we’re talking about the Timberwolves. The numbers suggest that Muhammad was pretty much an average defender for NBA standards, which probably puts him in the top half of defenders on the Timberwolves.

Last season, Muhammad allowed players he was defending to post a field goal percentage 0.6% lower than when they were guarded by somebody else. Opponents’ field goal percentages inside 10 feet increased by 3% when Muhammad was defending them, while the field goal percentage of shots greater than 15 feet out decreased by 1.1% when Muhammad was defending.

More from Timberwolves News

These stats suggest that Muhammad is a pretty solid perimeter defender, as he’s able to force tough, contested shots on the outside. However, he also allows baskets at a higher rate when closer to the rim.

Overall, it’s a mixed bag for Muhammad defensively. With his athleticism and build, it’d be tough to dismiss the idea of him being a solid defender in the future. He’s still young.

One thing you can’t ignore when talking about Muhammad is his rebounding. For a 6′-6″ wing player, Muhammad rebounds as well as anyone in the NBA. Last season, Muhammad averaged 6.6 rebounds per 36 minutes and posted a defensive rebound percentage (the percent of available rebounds that Muhammad corralled when he was on the floor) of 12.4%. Again, for a 6′-6″ wing player, those are both pretty impressive numbers.


Offensively, Muhammad dazzled Wolves fans last year. As previously noted, he became one of the most efficient scorers on the roster. He actually led the Timberwolves in scoring per 36 minutes, posting 21.5 points per 36. As an athletic 6′-6″ wing with good build, Muhammad can play at the two, three, or four positions. That versatility can cause some serious matchup problems for defenses.

Here’s Muhammad’s shot chart from last season.

One thing you’ll notice is the high volume of shots at the left block, which is where Muhammad scored at a high rate. He perfected a smooth left-handed hook shot that was very tough for opponents to guard. Here were the official numbers of all of his hook shots from last season.

You’ll notice that he didn’t attempt any hook shots from the right side here. Well, according to Derek James over at Hardwood Paroxysm, Muhammad has worked on evolving his game this offseason to include a right post hook shot. If he can make this a useful weapon in his arsenal, look out.

Additionally, Muhammad was a sneaky solid three-point shooter last season. Overall, he hit on 39.2% of his attempts, and most of those were in catch-and-shoot situations. In what was a pretty rigid offense with limited perimeter shots, Muhammad was able to thrive. This trend should continue this season, especially with added scoring threats around him.


Heading into his third season, Muhammad is expected to fill in the sixth-man role by many Wolves fans and bloggers. While I certainly think he’s capable of doing so, that role may not be given to him right away. Recent reports suggest that Zach LaVine will be the team’s starting shooting guard, leaving Kevin Martin on the bench and likely in the sixth-man role.

With that being said, there’s a good chance Muhammad ends up stepping into the sixth-man role at some point this season, whether it’s due to injuries of other players or even a Kevin Martin trade. Overall, Wolves fans can expect somewhere around 20 minutes per game to start with, and that number could easily increase.

Statistical Outlook

In 2014-15, Muhammad’s stat line was the following:

22.8 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 48.9% FG, 39.2% 3pt FG

This season, it’s fair to expect a similar output from Muhammad. He should see roughly the same minutes each game and should fill a similar role as last season. To me, there’s nothing wrong with a guy that can provide a nice scoring spark off the bench like Muhammad.

However, if Muhammad can become a consistently solid defender, he could develop into a starting-caliber player. It’s unlikely to happen this season, but it’s a possibility down the road.

Other Player Previews:

Andrew Wiggins

Zach Lavine

Gorgui Dieng

Kevin Garnett

Ricky Rubio

More from Dunking with Wolves