Former Lottery Pick Attempting NBA Comeback With Warriors

Shabazz Muhammad

Getty Shabazz Muhammad goes up for a shot in a game against the Golden State Warriors.

It’s been four years since former lottery pick Shabazz Muhammad has played in an NBA game, but this summer he could be attempting a comeback with the Golden State Warriors.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Anthony Slater reported that Muhammad was among a group of veteran players to get workouts as the Warriors look to fill their final roster spot.

“It’s expected the Warriors will fill their open training camp roster spot out of the free agents who came to work out in the Bay Area,” the pair reported.

Muhammad, whose last action in the NBA came as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018, has gotten other interest this summer and could have a chance to compete for a roster spot on the defending champion Warriors.

Muhammad Gets Interest From Warriors, Lakers

The Warriors are taking a deep dive into the free-agent pool to find candidates for their final roster spot. Charania and Slater reported that the team is bringing in a group this week that includes Ben McLemore, Elfrid Payton, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kenneth Faried, and the team already held a series of workouts earlier in the summer.

The Warriors took a similar approach last season, inviting a group of veteran players to training camp. Journeyman guard Gary Payton II, who had signed a 10-day contract with the Warriors the previous season, rose to the top of the class and ended up with the 15th roster spot.

Muhammad could have a more difficult time competing, should he get an invite to training camp. He played on the G League’s Grand Rapids Gold to start last season, but was waived in December. In February 2022, he joined the San Miguel Beermen of the Philippine Basketball Association. In his last full season in the NBA in 2017-18, Muhammad averaged 5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 43 appearances.

Despite the long gap in his NBA resume, Muhammad has attracted the interest of other teams this summer. HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported in July that he had a workout with the Los Angeles Lakers and had another with the Sacramento Kings during Summer League.

Muhammad Believes He Can Still Contribute

Muhammad was once seen as a potential top-three NBA pick, but saw his stock sink during his one season at UCLA and was picked No. 14 in the 2013 NBA Draft. He spent his first four and a half seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves before being waived in 2018. Muhammad spent parts of two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks before going to play in China and the Phillippines.

Speaking to The Athletic’s Dana O’Neill in July, Muhammad said the experience taught him just how hard it is to stay in the NBA.

“One thing I’ve learned — nothing comes easy,’’ he says. “If it was, everyone would be doing it. You have to learn how to deal with things when they don’t go your way. You should be grateful when you get to the NBA, but you can’t stop when you get there. That’s when the work starts. It’s hard to get there. It’s harder to stay.’’

But Muhammad still believes he has a lot to contribute, which could help him find a role on the Warriors team. In an interview with Scotto in March, Muhammad said he would be a good fit for the small ball style that many teams — especially the Warriors — employ today.

“There’s a lot of small ball now in the NBA. I’m a really good rebounder, and it’s one thing I take an initiative in. I’d bring energy off the bench,” he said. “That’s one thing I know I did when I was in Minnesota. I’d make sure I’m always staying fit and ready while being the best teammate I can be off the floor as well to the young guys.”