Shabazz Muhammad proved earlier this week why his maturity concerns were enough of a red flag for him to fall to 14th in a weak NBA draft, by not being able to make it through a rookie symposium without succumbing to the greatest addiction of all: NBA groupies.
Now his new general manager, former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, wants to grand stand and tell Muhammad that if he doesn’t get his act together he could be in Des Moines, Iowa. Don’t get me wrong, Saunders produces all the fear of a Teletubbies rerun, but if he wanted to secure a bright NBA future for Muhammad that is where his career should start.
Muhammad is a prime example of why AAU basketball isn’t a great device for children looking to seriously learn the game. The 6’7” guard/forward was given everything without earning it, even a birth certificate that allowed him to dominate younger smaller competition. With this great sense of entitlement, it is no surprise that Muhammad thinks that he can break rookie protocol at his initial event as an NBA player.
Also, if he cannot follow the rules here, what happens when he is forced into the starting line-up, like all rookies who are supposedly steals and really embraces a true NBA lifestyle? If he can’t handle groupies at a rookie symposium what happens on road trips to Los Angeles, New York and Miami?
At UCLA, Coach Ben Howland was so happy that Muhammad chose his school over Kentucky; he let him do what he wished. It was sometimes to the detriment of the team and Muhammad regressed because people have always refused to take a hard line with him.
Shabazz Muhammad, whatever his age is, is truly an NBA talent. He has an NBA body and the ability to post up smaller players and take bigger ones off the dribble. His problem is that he is a professional now. If it takes a D-League stint to explain what that actually means to him, it should happen. It’s truly up to Minnesota if it wanst Muhammad to become Rashad McCants or a successful NBA player.