And now it's official.
Mustafa Shakur is expected to be called-up later today to the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to sources close to the situation. Shakur, a 6-foot-3 guard, is averaging 20.7 points, 7.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals while shooting 50% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc while playing for the Oklahoma City-owned Tulsa 66ers.
Since I've recently broken Shakur's game down in-depth (read that because I worked hard on it knowing you'd want to know about him someday), I'll forgo writing up a new scouting report and rather quote the most important parts from that article:
Mustafa Shakur is an NBA player: he has NBA size (6'3" without shoes), NBA explosiveness, excellent scoring ability, a floor general's attitude and is even showing that he can play NBA-type defense on a consistent basis this season. Unfortunately, he doesn't have an NBA team ... yet.
As far as an NBA outlook goes for Shakur, I think, well, that there is one. As he told the Daily Thunder crew in this interview, Minnesota played him at both the point and shooting guard while he was with them in the preseason - while this is easy to overlook, I'm sure there are quite a few teams that wouldn't mind picking up a player that can be an emergency point guard as well as a solid scorer off the bench.
Why is that important? Because Oklahoma City is likely looking for a scoring option off the bench with shooting guard/offensive spark James Harden currently out with a strained hamstring for at least 10 more days and Kyle Weaver going 0-for-4 from the field in his 25 minutes since returning from the D-League.
Since I am under the assumption that this call-up has more to do with the fact that Oklahoma City is looking for scoring off of the bench with Harden out as opposed to needing one of the top point guards in the D-League (Eric Maynor should still be able to handle that duty), let's look at what Shakur will bring to the table:
- Familiarity: There won't be much of a learning curve for Shakur and the Thunder. Not only do the Thunder and 66ers run the same system, just last week Shakur was playing with two of the Thunder's bench producers in Weaver and D.J. White. With some of the team already pretty familiar with him, the transition, on and off the court, will no doubt be easier than it would be for most players.
- Scoring: A decent amount of Harden's offense came as the pick-and-roll ball handler. The majority of Shakur's offense comes as the pick-and-roll ball handler. While they both had different objectives (Shakur, as the point guard, was obviously looking to pass before shooting), they both do their damage in a similar fashion.
- Shooting: Harden is shooting 39.6% in spot up situations. Shakur is shooting 39.4% in the same situation. While I watch, it seems that Shakur drives to the basket more than anything, which is why I thought his 50% field goal shooting was probably a bit inflated. But since he's shooting well from beyond the arc (40%) even after 113 3-point attempts, I'm going to say he can shoot as well.
- Defense: Shakur can defend both guard positions - and does - even though he only played at the point in Tulsa. Can he do it well? Yes, actually - in the last report I received from Synergy, Shakur ranked in the 82% of all D-League players. This, if you were wondering, is considered "very good."