NEW YORK – Shabazz Muhammad was once viewed as a potential No. 1 pick. Midway through his freshman year, not only did that possibility remain, it seemed he had also raised his floor to being a top-five pick.
But Muhammad’s fortunes, both personally and professionally, turned quickly. His 3-point shot betrayed him. His stated age was revealed to be inaccurate. His game was poked apart by scouts. His draft stock sunk. His father was arrested. His draft stock sunk some more.
Muhammad wasn’t even invited to the NBA Draft green room, the latest blow to someone who has been chastised for reasons both fair and unfair.
Through it all, green-room invite or not, Muhammad remained determined to come to the Barclays Center tonight and celebrate being drafted.
“I knew I was going to come here,” Muhammad said. “I figured I was going to be a lottery pick. Just to stay here and end up shaking – especially it was a big-time thing with Mr. Stern and Commissioner Stern, his last time here. That’s really special.”
In the end, Muhammad was right. He was drafted 14th by the Jazz (and traded to the Timberwolves) – not only making the lottery, but jumping ahead of Sergey Karasev, who was invited to the green room – and got his handshake with Stern.
Confirmation he was still a lottery talent? Absolutely.
The last laugh? Not yet.
“At the end of the day, I look at it, it’s what you do in the league,” Muhammad said. “You get drafted, it’s your first step. It’s what you do in the league.”