2013 NBA Draft: Shabazz Muhammad Says Ben Howland’s System “Held Him Back”


Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2013 NBA draft just around the corner, many eyes are glued to UCLA wingman Shabazz Muhammad.

Although Muhammad is no longer considered the top-five pick that he once was, the draft process for the 20-year-old Bruin is still highly-publicized, given his visibility over the past couple of years.

Which explains why the 6’6” guard/forward was on the Jim Rome Show on Friday to speak out for himself and perhaps garner some support from NBA executives that may be interested in drafting him.

Muhammad discussed about the legal problems his father is facing as well as the age scandal that gained considerable attention this past season.

Perhaps most intriguing, though, was his opinion on ex-UCLA head coach Ben Howland. From CBS Sports:

"There was also a conversation regarding Muhammad’s time at UCLA. He called Ben Howland a “great coach” but also said the system Howland used held him back in some regard.“There was some stuff that I wasn’t really comfortable with,” Muhammad said. “It wasn’t a really up-tempo style of play, but I really enjoyed playing there. … I didn’t really get to show a lot of off-the-dribble stuff.”"

Some of this may come off as a slight dig at Howland (and it wouldn’t be the first; Howland’s dismissal came on the heels of immense fan pressure after five mediocre seasons by UCLA standards), and depending on the way you look at it, it might be interpreted as an excuse. Many UCLA fans do not see Muhammad in a positive light, so surely, they’re more prone to interpret this negatively.

At the same time, Howland’s system has a history of making players feel tied down, and one of the gripes observers have with Howland is that he doesn’t adjust his coaching to the talent at his disposal.

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that the Bruins did play a more uptempo style of basketball, contrary to Muhammad’s belief. UCLA averaged 72.1 possessions a tilt, good for 31st in the country. Read into this what you may, although one might interpret this as Muhammad finding excuses for his underwhelming season.

What’ll matter, though, is how NBA execs interpret Muhammad’s quotes. Some may understand the limitations placed upon him, and may excuse him for turning in some poor performances.

And many others will integrate this into the narrative that Muhammad is spoiled and self-entitled.

One of the two.