Minnesota holds the No. 9 overall pick in next Thursday’s draft and Muhammad has to be one of the players on the front office’s shortlist. In fact, he’s one of two prospects who the Timberwolves will likely select ninth, according to Chad Ford of ESPN (Insider subscription required).
Muhammad, a star forward from UCLA, averaged 17.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in his freshman year with the Bruins. He helped UCLA win the Pac-12 championship, and even though he didn’t win the National Championship, he thinks he had a pretty good year, according to Yannis Koutroupis of USA Today.
Muhammad is one of the top prospects in this year’s draft and many have speculated as to where he will eventually wind up. Some have projected him to go No. 1 overall, while others don’t even have him in the top 10. But he doesn’t care where he goes, writes Koutroupis:
I want to go as high as I can. Everyone wants to go as high as you can, but the best fit is perfect. If you get the best fit, it doesn’t really matter if you go high. You can look a the guys who have gone No. 3, some go No. 10 that get a great fit and translate right away and make a big impact right away.
Muhammad can make a big impact right away with several teams, but he fits best with the Timberwolves, who desperately need a small forward. While he would be a bit undersized to the play the 3, Minnesota would need to play him there in order to keep Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour in the starting lineup.
If push came to shove, Rubio would play the point and Muhammad would be the regular shooting guard—but it’s still a bit early to determine where everyone would end up on Minnesota’s depth chart. The Timberwolves just need another star in the making, and there’s no question that Muhammad has that type of potential.
Kevin Love tends to constantly get injured and there’s no guarantee that Nikola Pekovic is going to be back next season, as he’s a restricted free agent. Rubio has been solid, but he isn’t the star he was supposed to be. Without Love in the lineup, the Timberwolves lack a player who can score 20 points per night.
Love only played in 18 games this past season and he led the team in scoring with 18.3 points per game. Pekovic averaged 16.3 points per game. No one else on the team scored more than 13 points per night. It doesn’t appear that things are going to change either. Minnesota has to look for a scorer in the draft.
Muhammad is a good shooter and knows how to get the ball in the net. He shot 44.3 percent from the floor at UCLA and 37.7 percent from downtown. Minnesota won’t want him at the charity stripe when the game is on the line, but that’s something that can change with a bit of practice.
It shouldn’t take long for Muhammad to get acclimated with the Timberwolves either. Minnesota currently has a pair of former Bruins on its roster—Love and Malcolm Lee—who both played under Ben Howland. I don’t think it’d hurt to have Lee as a friend and Love as a mentor.
A couple of years down the line, the Timberwolves could be Muhammad’s team. Right now, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. He will fit in perfectly with those already on the roster and provide immediate aid to the team’s current woes.