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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shabazz Muhammad vs Jamaal Franklin

In a battle against dynamic shooting guards, the elder Jamaal Franklin came out on top of the highly touted Shabazz Muhammad. Experience prevailed over youth in the game as well, as UCLA fell to San Diego State 78-69. UCLA hung with SDSU through the first half, but the Aztecs got hot from deep to bury UCLA in the second half. Franklin finished with 28 points and Shabazz had 16.

This was my second look at Franklin this year. The first time was on a boat against Syracuse's 2-3 zone which wasn't an ideal situation to scout him. Franklin struggled badly to get anything going in that game and had a lot of bad turnovers. Last night, Franklin had a much easier time against UCLA's version of the 2-3 zone, as one would expect.

Early on Franklin acted as a facilitator and did a nice job getting his teammates involved with some quality finds. His teammates didn't help him out much by converting (Franklin finished with only 3 assists), but his 1/2 A/TO ratio doesn't illustrate how he played. In fact, this was one of the best games I've seen Franklin play. He was under control for the most part and played with a lot of fire.

He got hot at the end of the 1st half from 3 and ended up looking for his own shot more in the second half. He chucked quite a few 3s in the final 20 minutes, but nothing out of his role. SDSU needs him to be an aggressive scorer. Franklin cooled off quickly from 3 though, and finished 3-10 from deep on the night.

The rest of Franklin's game consisted of him taking advantage of defenders closing out on him for the 3 and him driving past them. Franklin doesn't have the surest handles in traffic and turns it over a fair amount. He's a guy who could benefit from learning to slow his game down, but probably won't ever get there. He definitely has the capabilities to make spectacular plays throughout the game.

Franklin could be a good player at the next level if he isn't asked to do too much. He is a great athlete, can shoot the ball, create his shot a bit, and finish in transition. He also has good court vision but can be careless passing the ball.

He's a guy who could give a coach headaches, but from all reports, Coach Fisher loves coaching him and raves about his work ethic. His competitiveness and intensity was certainly on display last night and he took on the challenge of defending Shabazz Muhammad. Franklin is a guy who carries a chip on his shoulder and you could tell he wanted to prove that he is the better player.

For one night, he was.

Shabazz struggled for most of the game, despite finishing with 16 points. Jamaal Franklin has a problem with always driving left and its a similarity Shabazz shares as well. Shabazz has had to work very hard for his points this year. He's been forced to run the court in transition and try to muscle shots up in the post instead of creating his offense from the halfcourt on the perimeter.

Part of this is because he is rushing things. Another part is him trying to be too perfect. A bigger part may be that Shabazz just isn't that skilled. The only thing Shabazz has proven to do very well at this point is bully smaller guards.

When you have the athletic ability that Shabazz has, you can slow the game down and force players to play at your pace. You don't need to make hasty decisions as soon as the ball to catch the defense out of position. Shabazz needs to take his time more, measure the defense up in triple threat position, and plan how to attack. He should be able to drive by defenders in isolation sets. If he can't, then it is time to re-evaluate his pro potential.

We aren't at that point yet.

Shabazz looked very average through most of the game, but in the final couple of minutes he finally started to attack from the perimeter. He hit a jumper coming off a screen. He got all the way to the basket. He broke a defender down for a nice floater. That floater is something that he showed off multiple times in the game. He has good touch on it and gets it off quickly - almost flicking it at the basket.

Defensively, Shabazz is still struggling. He looks off balance in his defense stance and was beaten lateral on a few occasions.

Player to Monitor

There was a freshman point forward in this game who has potential to be a first rounder and his name isn't Kyle Anderson. While Anderson has looked like a 4 year player this whole season - looking even slower than advertised and not making enough plays to make up for it - Winston Shepard has looked like a solid prospect.

Shepard can cover multiple positions well (unlike Anderson who can't cover any) and really played great defense last night. He also got the offense into some sets and looked like a potential leader down the road. I like how he can get into the lane and maintain control. He can dribble it in the mid-range area where his height allows him to see over bigs to make easy passes to teammates or take a short jumper himself. Shepard needs his production to come along and he should be in school for at least another year or two, but in my opinion, he's a better prospect than Anderson.

1 comment:

  1. One thing you forgot to mention: Franklin's rebounding ability -- he's average nearly 10 rebounds on the season. For someone with a questionable outside shot, that could become important as NBA scouts may start to consider him a small 3. I still think his athleticism together with the ability to attack the rim will allow him to play at the next level -- but the rebounding is what may allow him to become a 2/3 combo, increasing his versatility.