When the Denver Nuggets drafted Emmanuel Mudiay No. 7 overall in the 2015 draft, seeing him benched in favor of Jameer Nelson in Year 2 is not what they had in mind for his development. But that is what has transpired.
Michael Malone said after Nuggets practice on Wednesday that Nelson will be the team’s point guard when the team plays its first game after the All-Star break.
“I’m going to go with Jameer. Jameer is our starting point guard for right now and he has done a good job,” Malone said, via Mile High Sports’ Aniello Piro. “He has earned the trust and he has done a very good job while Emmanuel has been out. When it comes to who plays behind Jameer, that is a decision we are still trying to figure out.”
Mudiay is returning from a back injury that could be affecting his play this season.
The second-year point guard has failed to take a step forward from his rookie season and is averaging just 11.8 points and 4.2 assists per game. He’s shooting just 36.9 percent from the field, though he has improved his free throw shooting to 77.5 percent.
The 25-31 Nuggets currently hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, although there is a huge gap between them and the 7th-seeded Thunder. Only 3.5 games separates Denver from five teams beneath them in the standings.
The Denver Nuggets may be open for business.
According to a report by Zach Lowe of ESPN on Thursday, the Nuggets are “quietly exploring” the trade market for point guard Emmanuel Mudiay in an attempt to see what they might get for Mudiay and the multiple draft picks they have at their disposal. Lowe also adds, however, that Denver is “in no rush” to move the Congolese guard.
Mudiay is still just 20 years old and is averaging 12.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game this season. But turnovers and efficiency are his enemies, and it’s still a legitimate question in his second year in the league if Mudiay’s skillset is NBA-caliber right now.
What works in Mudiay’s favor is that Denver is thin at the point behind him as 34-year-old Jameer Nelson is his only backup. But if the Nuggets have concluded Mudiay isn’t their floor general of the future, it may still be easy to move on given how loaded the 2017 draft class is with point guard talent.
Denver Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay had a funny moment during Thursday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, but he ended up apologizing for it later.
Popovich was ejected from the game late in the second quarter, and Mudiay was right there working alongside the referee to give Pop the heave-ho:
Going to watch both angles of Emmanuel Mudiay ejecting Gregg Popovich on loop until the sun comes up pic.twitter.com/kxeUz9y0mM
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 20, 2017
Mudiay was told after the game about his actions getting a lot of attention and seemed to already know that.
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) January 20, 2017
Mudiay clearly felt he was getting attention for the wrong reasons and decided to apologize.
I apologize if I offended some but I didn't mean no disrespect towards coach Pop, one of the Goat . I'm just trying to have fun.
— Emmanuel Mudiay (@emmanuelmudiay) January 20, 2017
The Nuggets guard obviously has a lot of respect for Pop. The Spurs still won the game 118-104 even without their coach. Mudiay had 12 points in the loss, but one memorable gesture.
Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone lost his temper during his team’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night, and he took it out on an opponent and one of his own players.
First, Malone had some words for Blake Griffin, who was not happy that the Nuggets were employing a hack-a-DeAndre Jordan strategy at the end of the game.
Jordan is a poor free throw shooter, and he made just 12 of 25 in the game. He missed several free throws late in the fourth quarter, but perhaps Griffin felt that the Nuggets were dragging out the game with L.A. leading 110-93 and just under two minutes remaining.
Malone said after the game that he owes the Clippers an apology.
“As a head coach, as a leader of this team, I can’t get caught up in that kind of stuff,” he said, via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “I owed them an apology. Have to set a better example for our team, and we just have to keep on working. Stay together and keep on working, and find a way to stay positive. Hopefully a win will come soon.”
Just moments after that, Malone got into it with rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay on the bench.
— Nate Timmons (@NateTimmonsBSN) November 25, 2015
That incident led to Mudiay issuing an apology of his own, saying that everyone is just frustrated with Denver’s current four-game losing streak.
“It’s just both of us being competitors. It probably was my fault, I could have been doing a lot more,” Mudiay said. “So I kind of put the blame on myself. I’ve got nothing against Coach, I respect him.”
Earlier this month, it was another team having a verbal altercation during a game against the Nuggets. Apparently the have been partially responsible for a lot of frustration this season.
At the ripe age of just 19 years old, Nuggets rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has already shown that he has the tools to run an NBA offense. Mudiay posted 16 points, 11 assists, and just one turnover in a 103-102 Denver victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night in a widely lauded performance. One of the admirers was Bucks head coach Jason Kidd.
Kidd, the 10-time All-Star point guard back in his illustrious playing career, showered Mudiay with high praise after the game. “At 19 years old, he’s very talented,” Kidd said of the Congolese guard per Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. “He’s running the team, he’s not afraid to take a big shot…To see a 19-year old being able to run a team with his poise, and then also his skills. He has skills at the age of 19.
“I think he’s doing a really good job,” Kidd continued. “They are a young team, he’s asked to do a lot, and I think he’s standing up. He wants to be in that position, and it’s hard to say at 19-years old there are a lot of guys that can handle that.”
Kidd was finally pressed to draw a comparison between Mudiay and himself back when he first entered the league as a 21-year-old in 1994. “He’ll be better,” replied the five-time NBA assists leader. “He’s better already. Being able to run an NBA team at 19 is not easy. You look at some of the greats — Magic (Johnson) was able to do it. And you’re looking at this kid Mudiay, who has the opportunity to do something special. So, I would encourage him to be better than me, and I think he will be at the end of the day.”
Coming from a future Hall of Famer and one of the ten greatest point guards of all-time, Mudiay should certainly hold his head high after receiving such commendation.
The No. 7 overall pick in last June’s draft may still has a ways to go in terms of matching Kidd’s defensive tenacity, rebounding dexterity for a guard, as well as his ability to dominate tempo and make smart decisions in the open floor (not to mention that Mudiay is plagued by some of the same shooting issues that dogged Kidd early in his career). But the skillset is unquestionably there and with the correct development of his talents, it’s easy to see how Mudiay’s ceiling could project to be higher than Kidd’s was.
For now, it’s clear that Mudiay landed in the right situation in Denver (something he is well-aware of), and his rookie season has been fun to watch as he has already turned NBA head coaches from non-believers to worshippers at the Church of Emmanuel.
H/T NBA Reddit
Emmanuel Mudiay had a strong game for the Denver Nuggets in the team’s 120-109 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, and it gave the first-round pick an opportunity to zing Byron Scott.
The Lakers were looking for a point guard in the 2015 NBA Draft and they selected D’Angelo Russell at No. 2 overall. They also considered Mudiay, who went No. 7 to Denver, but Scott and the Lakers opted for Russell instead.
“I didn’t think he was a true point guard,” Scott said of Mudiay Monday. “I didn’t think he was a guy who made great decisions when we saw him and had him here. I thought that was something he would have to learn to do to run that position.”
Scott did say he thought Mudiay was going to be pretty good regardless, but that’s not what Mudiay focused on.
Mudiay said prior to Tuesday’s game between the teams that he was using negative comments from the Lakers head coach as motivation. He did just that, posting a career-best 10 assists while going 3-of-4 on 3-pointers and 3-for-3 at the free throw line in the win.
“Thank you Byron Scott for saying I’m not a point guard,” Mudiay said after the game via the Denver Post’s Chris Dempsey.
Scott also noted in his analysis of Mudiay that the Congo native had a little bit of an edge. I guess we’re seeing a perfect example of that. But as many other players have taught us, having a chip on your shoulder as motivation is generally a good thing in sports.
Nuggets rookie Emmanuel Mudiay’s slide on Draft Night 2015 was one of the more riveting storylines the evening had to offer. But if you ask Mudiay himself, everything worked out for the best in the end.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post in a report published Monday, the point guard phenom expressed relief to his inner circle that the New York Knicks passed on him with the fourth overall pick.
Per Berman’s report:
Nuggets rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay told confidants after the draft he was, in retrospect, happy the Knicks passed on him at No. 4, as he was unsure he would have been a good fit for the triangle. Despite public comments to the contrary that he felt team president Phil Jackson could “make me a star,’’ Mudiay said he felt he was a better match in a more freewheeling Denver offense, according to sources.
Mudiay, who would be scooped up by the Nuggets three picks later, had a right to be legitimately concerned about his potential fit in Phil Jackson’s fabled triangle offense. His pass-first mentality may have been great for the pillar of ball movement the triangle predicates itself on. But Mudiay has yet to flash a reliable jumper from 17+ feet, making him a liability in any conceivable triangle. Additionally the Congolese guard’s inherent up-tempo, Derrick Rose-style mentality would have been stifled in the systematic, shot clock-eating triangle dynamic.
Mudiay had a strong Summer League showing for the Nuggets in Las Vegas. He put up 12.0 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, and 5.8 assists per game, en route to All-Summer Second Team honors. With Ty Lawson being shipped to Houston on Sunday, the 19-year-old is now looking at the lion’s share of the minutes at point guard for Denver. All in all, it’s a great endgame for Mudiay as he’s free to torture winded opposing guards with his speed in the Mile High altitude.
Things didn’t work out too badly for the Knicks either. They used that fourth selection to draft high-upside Latvian sensation Kristaps “Porzingod” Porzingis, who was equally impressive in Summer League. They also got their heady, high basketball IQ point guard to slot into the triangle in Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant, who they acquired the rights to on draft night, as they now move forward with an exciting core of young talent.
In the words of William Shakespeare, “All’s well that ends well.”
H/T Bleacher Report