2016-17 Roster Review: Shabazz Muhammad

Most any reflection on Shabazz Muhammad’s 2016-17 season can be laid to rest before it really gets started. “Bazzy,” who just finished his fourth season, is basically the same Bazzy we came to know in his first three seasons.

A brief summary:

  • Bazz’s motor runs hot. It is more visible than anyone else’s. The dude goes to work every day.
  • He isn’t a good passer because he is afflicted with tunnel vision. Bazz’s first instinct is to get a shot up. So when Bazz passes, he tends to deliver the ball a bit late and a bit out of sync with the team’s offensive sets.
  • He can score in bunches. When he takes defenders to the left block, there’s a good chance he’ll be taking and making a jump hook. Former AWAW scribe Steve McPherson put together this little ditty, which illustrates Muhammad’s go-to move quite well.

 

Another representation of how stilted Shabazz’s offensive game is can be seen in his shot chart for last season.

(Courtesy of vorped.com)

 

You will see that his shot attempts were clustered mostly on the left side of the floor, where Muhammad posts up in strong-side sets or leaks out to the three-point line in weak-side sets for treys off of ball reversals and swing passes.

What Was Different in 2016-17

For all of the continuity we saw in Shabazz Muhammad’s game in 2016-17, it would be misleading to intimate that there wasn’t any variability in his development and performance.

First, as machine-like as Muhammad’s motor and offensive repertoire can seem, it felt like he had fairly extreme highs and lows throughout different parts of the season. Bazz started the season poorly, then played really well—he shot the hell out of the 3 ball for a while, in January and February—and then regressed at the end of the season. As the chart shows, Muhammad’s accuracy from deep fluctuated a lot throughout the season.

Unsurprisingly, our assessment of Muhammad also fluctuated throughout the season, from “TRADE HIM NOW” to “HE’S GOING TO GET PAID IN FREE AGENCY NEXT YEAR SHOULD WE MATCH?” to a mere * shrug *.

Second, Muhammad’s defense evolved this year, but it isn’t clear exactly * how * it evolved. As with most things Shabazz, it fluctuated in aways that were at best semi-intelligible. (Eds. Note: The dude simply has a funky, unique game.)

Bazz’s defensive rating hung really, weirdly low for most of the season, before spiking up at the end.

Based on the eye-test, I think Muhammad improved significantly on defense. The real question is how much. Bazz was an absolute disaster as a defender before last season, so he had a lot of room to improve.

Finally, Shabazz will be a restricted free agent this offseason. There has been much debate about how much the Wolves should pay him. Tom Thibodeau has said he likes Bazz a lot, but what else could he possibly say during the season? It might just be cheap talk.

Despite his quirks, I hope the Wolves will retain Shabazz Muhammad. Do you?

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3 Responsesso far.

  1. Brian says:

    Bazz is a hard worker and by all accounts has been a good teammate but he’s far too 1 dimensional for us to invest significantly into him. If it’s a cheap to very reasonable contract then yes but if it’s even just normal reasonable according to today’s NBA contracts then no. He’s too inconsistent with the one thing he does well, scoring. If he was more consistent with it then maybe I’d be more inclined but it’s 20 one game and 5 the next. Not to mention the big swings from month to month. After 4 years he’s essentially the same player he has always been so if he gets a contract offer I say we don’t match and wish him well.

  2. NMD0102 says:

    I think that Bazz has a place in the NBA, it’s just not what he thinks it is. He puts up shots like he’s a superstar, but in reality he probably tops out as a role player. Sure, he could put up big numbers if he started on an awful team, but does he really contribute to a team’s overall success? I’m not convinced.

    Bazz is essentially just a wing version of Enes Kanter – someone who can put up big numbers off the bench, but shouldn’t play more than 15-20 minutes per game on a decent team. While I love how hard he works, the Wolves could do better by playing Bjelly more at the 3 next year.

    I say the Wolves should match anything up to 4 years, 40 million. But I imagine that he’ll get an offer better than that.

  3. Tom says:

    If we are a playoff team, sometime down the road, is a Shabazz an important part on the team? He has definitely improved each year, but is willing to be an eighth or ninth player like he would be on a championship team? Heck, he may be a tenth or eleventh player for a Warriors or Cavs team. Sadly, tying up money for five or six years for that player isn’t wise for the wolves and Baz will get better offers to be a sixth or possible starter on a team like the nets, Knicks or possibly Pelicans. He could come back and throw down 30 against us a night or two, but I don’t think letting Baz go, will end our playoff aspirations.

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