Photo: Getty Images
Name: Mike Muscala Age: 21 School: Bucknell
Height: 6’11 Weight: 239 Projected Position: PF/C
2012-13 Stats (As of 1/20/13):
20.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.7 bpg, 1.9 tpg (31.9 minutes per game)
54.3 FG%, 80.4 FT%, 61.0 TS%, 13.1 OREB%, 20.8 DREB%, 20.8 TREB%, 22.9 AST%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Muscala’s footwork in the offensive post has improved every year he has been in college. He is capable of making moves over either shoulder from either side of the lane. He uses his body well to get position in the post, using his lower body and getting wide to keep the defender on his back. He does a great job calling for the ball and getting his hands out to receive the pass. He shows good patience with the ball and will rarely force his moves into double teams or heavy traffic. He has developed a nice short jump-hook with either hand, and is capable of facing-up and hitting the short or mid-range jumper, as well as a quick turnaround jumper off the blocks. He has nice touch around the basket and can also finish strong when he has the room to jump. Muscala is also good at using angles off the backboard to hit shots, allowing him to bring his move to various spots. He uses pump-fakes well to get defenders in the air; draws contact well, and can finish through it. He does need to work on the speed of his post moves, as well as continuing to improve his shot selection. He will try to force shots looking to draw contact, but if he doesn’t get it, it usually ends up as a wild shot. Muscala is also a good option at the high post, where he can facilitate ball movement, or hit the free throw area jumper. If he works on his foot speed, he may be able to add a good move to the basket.
Muscala is an average ballhandler for his size, though you don’t want him taking more than a few dribbles at any time. Out of the post, he is able to use either hand to make his post move to the basket. He looks to keep the ball low and minimize his dribbles, though he can lose the ball in the lane area by not keeping it close to his body. He is smart about his ballhandling and only uses it when he needs to. He can work on making controlling his left-handed dribbles a bit more, but he has definitely improved in that area over the past years.
Muscala is a very good shooter for his size. He has a high release, good range (consistent to about 18 feet), and an average release time. He understands spacing well, and is a good option on pick-and-pop situations. He uses shot fakes well to draw defenders off-balance, though he doesn’t have the speed and ballhandling skills to go by them, but the fake does buy him enough space to get off his shot. While he has shown that he can hit out to the college 3-point line, he will need to put in work to be a real long-range threat at the NBA level.
Muscala is a good offensive rebounder, anticipating missed shots well and using his body to get good position for the rebound. He controls the ball well and does a good job keeping it high, looking to get quick 2nd chance opportunities if they are available. He may force some bad 2nd chance shots once he has the offensive rebound, but he will usually get the ball out if he doesn’t sense a good chance. He is also a threat to crash the offensive boards from the perimeter, so opposing teams better find him and get a body on him.
Muscala has shown good patience and vision when he has the ball, both in the post and on the perimeter. He anticipates double teams well in the post, and finds an open teammate with quick, strong passes. He has good awareness and can find cutters and shooters on the weakside and he can make good passes out of the high post as well.
Free Throw Shooting
Muscala is a very good free throw shooter, with a smooth, repetitive stroke and confidence when he steps to the line. Muscala does a good job drawing contact and getting to the free throw line, getting approximately 1 free throw for every 2 field goal attempts. It’s even better when you consider that Muscala spends a good amount of time out of the post area for a 6’11 player.
Muscala has developed into a very strong post defender. He is physical and uses his lower body well to force his man away from the baskets. He keeps a wide base, forcing any post moves to go wide around him. His footwork and foot speed aren’t great, but he makes up for it by playing physical and looking to deny the post when he gets a chance. He does a good job forcing post moves towards the lane and the help defenders. Muscala hedges well in pick-and-roll situations, and he also does a good job knowing when he has to come out on the ballhandler and when he can stay back and allow his teammate to recover, taking away the roll pass. He recovers well to his man when he hedges out, but he needs to make sure he doesn’t get caught out too far, especially against an experienced ballhandler.
Muscala is a smart perimeter defender, though he has not really been challenged often with an athletic big man who can go by him off the dribble. He positions himself well, allowing him to close on a jump shot when needed but not getting so close to allow him to be beat. He has average lateral movement and foot speed, though he needs to do a better job cutting of angles off the dribble.
Help Defense/Shot Blocking
Muscala anticipates having to help around the lane, though he can be a step or two slow to get over at times. He does a very good job blocking shots, though he does it in a variety of ways. He is not an elite jumper, but he plays smart and will look to get blocks at lower points. He is capable of blocking shots with either hand and he does a good job avoiding body contact while doing it.
Muscala is a great defensive rebounder and it starts with the fundamentals. He always looks to put a body on someone and he does a very good job keeping his man pinned behind him before he goes for the ball. If someone is going to get an offensive rebound off of him, they will either have to get up ridiculously high or they will likely go over his back, drawing a foul. He does a good job securing the ball when he gets it, but the one thing I would like to see him improve his going stronger after the ball once he boxes out. A lot of times the ball will come down very low before he gets it, leaving it open to be swiped at. He clears out his area well once he has secured the ball and waits for his ballhandlers to get open before he makes the outlet pass.
Muscala isn’t very fast, but he does hustle up and down the floor. He isn’t going to get out ahead on the break often, but he is a very good option as a trailing shooter, able to find where the holes are on the defense and step into a high percentage perimeter shot.
Muscala has a great understanding of the game, and he has the ability to provide a team different options when he is on the floor. His ability to hit the mid-range jumper consistently, combined with his post play and rebounding will make him a valuable commodity at the NBA level. He isn’t athletic and he won’t be a great fit for a team that likes to push the pace consistently, but he is a very strong halfcourt player who will put the team above everything. His athleticism should improve once he is working at basketball full time and he is capable of playing consistent minutes right away for many teams. Skillwise, I don’t think we will see many changes, just some fine tuning, so he is likely close to his potential ceiling, but that still makes him a quality big man for many years to come.
Draft Value: 1st Round – Late 1st – #22-30
Muscala has the ability to step in and play right away for the right teams. As discussed, his ceiling isn’t likely much higher, but that still puts him ahead of most big men coming out or likely to be coming out in this draft. Coaches will love his understanding of the game and smart play, though his level of athleticism won’t make him a good fit for a number of teams. If he drops into the second round, whoever gets him is going to get tremendous value for that pick.
Leave your comments below, or email me – email@example.com
Follow me on Twitter – @NBADraftBlog