The Milwaukee Bucks know that there are 65 days (and counting!) until the season starts, and they aren’t about to let you get bored during the offseason. In today’s edition of “August Intrigue,” which is the name of a show that doesn’t exist but totally should, Shams Charania tweeted that the team would bring back Shabazz Muhammad.
Free agent Shabazz Muhammad has agreed to a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources tell Yahoo.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 14, 2018
Shabazz was a poor man’s Michael Beasley last season, soaking up tons of possessions (29.5% usage rate) in extremely limited minutes. His overall stats were uninspiring, but per-36 he scored nearly thirty points on .552/.375.895 shooting! (In 117 total minutes with Milwaukee...but still, PPGZZZZZZZZZZZZ.)
But you might be thinking, Shabazz doesn’t exactly fit the archetype that coach Mike Budenholzer looks for. He likes players who can shoot (Shabazz can’t, career 3PT% of 0.319 and 3PAr of 0.194), defend (Shabazz doesn’t, his career high in Defensive Win Shares is 0.2), and pass (Shabazz won’t, his career Assist Rate is 5.5%). So what’s the deal?
Shabazz Muhammad and the Bucks are working on a deal — it's close, but not officially done — that would bring him back to Milwaukee to compete for a roster spot during training camp, per source.— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) August 14, 2018
Muhammad does exactly one thing at an NBA level: score near the basket. Over half of his career field goal attempts come from inside 10 feet, and despite flashes of three point ability, he’s never developed his game for the modern age. He’s a power forward masquerading as a shooting guard, with an offensive profile that’s more Greg Monroe than Klay Thompson. On a roster that is (or at least should be) focused on getting Giannis Antetokounmpo ample space to drive to the rim, Shabazz Muhammad is simply a luxury that offers very little upside.
Shabazz was really bad in Minny and unsustainably good in a super limited role for Bucks last season, leading the team in pts/36 (28.9), PER (31.0) and net on/off (+12.0) in a microscopic 117 minutes. Could give Zeller a run for final roster spot. https://t.co/M114riyMQO— Frank (@fmaddenNBA) August 14, 2018
Then again, with the logjam present at the center position, it’s possible that Muhammad is brought along in place of Tyler Zeller, whose non-guaranteed contract and placement behind Brook Lopez, Thon Maker, and John Henson mean that his roster spot may be in jeopardy. All else being equal, Zeller makes more sense on this roster than Shabazz, since his size and versatility are beneficial in more ways than Shabazz’s one-directionalism.
No matter what, the Bucks have fourteen guaranteed contracts on the books, meaning that there’s one more roster spot that ultimately won’t affect the team’s performance that much. What you want largely comes down to what you value on the third string of an NBA team. Do you want a scorer that gets hot every twelfth game? Or do you want a dependable-yet-unexciting big man who offers a modicum of versatility? It’s August in the NBA, so we might as well have that debate! Zeller! Shabazz! WHO YA GOT?!