Shabazz Muhammad & Kyle Anderson: 7 Reasons They'll Be Nation's Top Duo at UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad decided to play for Ben Howland's UCLA Bruins next season, teaming up with Kyle Anderson. The two are both top five recruits in the Class of 2012, and they will make up the best tandem in college basketball in the 2012-13 season.
UCLA has gone from an unranked team that missed out on the tournament to No. 6 in Bleacher Report's preseason Top 25 because of these two recruits. They are among the best in the class and they could both be in the NBA right now if they were allowed.
These two make up a very dangerous combination, and these are the reasons why they will be the best in the nation.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
First off, let's agree that in today's game, freshmen are having a much bigger impact thanks to new levels of competition in AAU and travel teams for high schoolers.
These kids are much more mature and well-coached at the age of 18 than a lot of players were at 22 a decade ago.
Also, with the one-and-done rule in place, players who could be in the NBA are now in college for a year, dominating the game. Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson both fit into this category.
To show how dominant freshmen can be, think of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague last year. Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving the year before. John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins the year before. Need I go on?
There are always a few freshmen who leave a lasting impact, and you can expect Muhammad and Anderson to be among those this year.
Anderson's Unique Style of Play
“Slow-Mo” is easily the most unique player in the Class of 2012, and possibly in basketball history.
Kyle Anderson is a 6'9” point guard who can play all three perimeter positions, but his incredible size for his position doesn't begin to describe just how unique he is. With the slowest style of play I have ever seen, Anderson doesn't blow by defender with his athleticism, but he simply makes them miss with his moves, and he is one of the most skilled players in the class.
Anderson does have a lot of athleticism, but he chooses to slow down and make his opponents miss when he is in traffic, rather than just blowing by them with his speed. Anderson is a versatile player who is tough to defend, and his unique style allows him to be both a great scorer and passer.
Anderson Creates Mismatches
Believe it or not, a 6'9” point-forward creates a lot of mismatches.
Kyle Anderson is the hardest player in the class to defend because smaller defenders aren't big enough, and players who are close to his size do not possess his skill set or quickness.
Anderson can shoot over smaller defenders, like most point guards he will see in college. However, he has also added a post-up move, and can now finish with his back to the basket against players who are much smaller than him.
Anderson is also skilled enough to make larger defenders miss, and if he comes off the ball he is much quicker than anyone of his size.
Anderson creates mismatches because of his size and speed, but he is also a difficult matchup to begin with. His unique style of play makes defenders want to make aggressive plays, but he easily makes them miss, forcing any of his defenders to slow down and just stay in front of him (which is something most young players can't do).
Muhammad's Slashing Ability
Shabazz Muhammad is arguably the best player in the Class of 2012, thanks to his ability to drive through the lane.
Muhammad is a scoring machine who can score in any way, but specializes when he is cutting through the lane.
With a chiseled physique and a great frame at 6'6" and 215 pounds, he has the ability to score through contact. And once the defense allows him within 15 feet of the basket, they can't stop him.
Look for Muhammad's ability to drive in the half-court set to help the Bruins next season.
Muhammad's Ability to Get into the Open Court
Along with his ability to slash through the lane in the half-court set, Muhammad can do a lot of damage in transition.
Muhammad has a nose for the ball and he seems to know what is going to happen about five seconds before it actually happens, which gives him time to react. This allows him to get out in the open court and run ahead of anyone else.
With Kyle Anderson's ability to see the floor ahead of him as a point guard, he can turn his rebounds into easy baskets. We know that Anderson's 6'9" stature will allow him to grab about 5-8 rebounds per game.
Muhammad is going to succeed in both the half-court set and in transition, which makes him a dangerous combination with Anderson.
Their Desire to Win
Both of these kids are winners, and they both have an incredible desire to win.
Both of these kids respond to coaching and criticism extremely well because they want to improve and win games.
Because these kids are so coachable, they will fit in to whatever scheme Ben Howland devises, which gives them the ability to beat any team on any night because they can both attack weaknesses.
Stars Are Leaving
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
With all five starters from Kentucky last season leaving to go to the NBA draft, the best combination John Calipari will have next year will be freshmen, but they are not as good as UCLA's combination.
When you think about it, almost every star from last year is leaving: Thomas Robinson, Draymond Green, Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and more.
There are very few combinations of stars left, and the best in the nation will probably be combos like Christian Watford and Cody Zeller, Isaiah Austin and Quincy Miller, and maybe Michigan's trio.
There aren't any incredible combinations lefts, and these two freshmen don't have a lot of competition for the title.