Shabazz Muhammad has only participated in two of the UCLA Bruins contests during the 2012-13 season, but he’s already proving why he was one of the top recruits in the nation and could easily become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
The freshman phenom is averaging 18.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, one assist and one steal through the pair of games, and he is knocking down 50 percent of his field goal attempts, with the same stellar percentage on three-point shots as well.
He’s a serious shot maker and knows how to manufacture points in a hurry, which is always an asset—no matter what level of basketball is being played. It’s especially important in the NBA, where an elite scorer can push a team to the next level.
While Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel may offer more size at 6’11” and a more serious defensive presence, he’s not much of an offensive force and doesn’t have the same upside as Muhammad. Noel has drawn comparisons to last year’s Wildcats star, Anthony Davis, but he’s much more raw and doesn’t have the same upside.
At 6’6”, 225 pounds, Muhammad has prototypical size for an NBA shooting guard, with incredible wingspan, knack for making baskets anywhere on the court, toughness, and, most importantly, heart.
If Muhammad keeps playing at a high level and showing NBA scouts that he loves the game, hustles on every possession and isn’t afraid to bang in the paint despite his size and position, he’s a lock to go No. 1.
He’s already well on his way towards that lofty goal and just needs to maintain the course while improving some of his tertiary stats such as assists and rebounding—which should come in time if he works hard.
The draft is still a long ways away, but we imagine nearly any franchise that has a crack at the top pick in the lottery will be dreaming about calling Shabazz Muhammad’s name on draft night.