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Denver Nuggets

Rosen: Emmanuel Mudiay still a major work in progress

Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay (0) loses control of the ball while being defended by Detroit Pistons' Ish Smith (14) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Pistons defeated the Nuggets 103-86. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
AP Photo/Duane Burleson

This is the first of periodical scouting reports on the evolution/devolution of some of last season’s blue-chip rookies.

Let’s start with Emmanuel Mudiay — the seventh pick in the 2015 draft — and see what can be concluded by his performance in Denver’s 103-86 loss in Detroit.

PLUS

His one steal came when he alertly poked the ball away from a driving Ish Smith.

A nifty drive-and-dish found Danilo Gallinari wide open at the stripe but, in a highly surprising development, Galinari passed up the shot.

Mudiay was unafraid to drive into the middle and face being blasted by Detroit’s bigs. That’s precisely how he wound up shooting free throws.

His making 6-7 from the stripe was highlighted by Mudiay being entrusted to shoot (and make) a technical that resulted from an illegal defense call against Detroit. This was proof of how much his free throw shooting has improved.

Mudiay contained a drive by Smith by squeezing around a screen and maintaining good defensive position.

His three assists came on drive-and-kick passes to Gallinari and Nikola Jokic, plus a drop pass to Jusuf Nurkic.

Mudiay also made a slick entry pass into the low-posted Nurkic, who was subsequently whistled for a charging foul that was reviewed and, for some dumb reason, was changed into a flagrant foul.

Mudiay might have registered two more assists had teammates bagged open shots.

He demonstrated his unselfishness by only forcing one shot — a spinning fadeaway in the lane.

MINUS

Shooting 0-7 lowered his current field goal percentage to .271. Moreover, his two missed treys reduced Mudiay’s downtown percentage to .200.

Aside from the embarrassing numbers, Mudiay’s shooting difficulties were clearly evidenced on four of his jumpers — a back-rim miss, a backboard slamming brick, another jump shot that clanged off the side rim and a trey attempt that barely nudged the front rim.

One wonders how much he worked on his shooting during the offseason. Clearly, the young man desperately needs radical surgery from an accomplished shot doctor.

Otherwise, Mudiay went under too many screens, overplayed screens and was forced into several mismatches. It should be noted, however, that Denver’s bigs are slow-footed, relatively unathletic and seldom offered sufficient help on these (and any) screens.

Even so, the 14 points scored against Mudiay in head-to-head confrontations overwhelmed the six points that he registered.

All of Mudiay’s three turnovers occurred when he lost control of his left-handed dribble.

CONCLUSION

A long-armed 6’5”, 200-pounder, Mudiay certainly has the physical equipment to be at least an adequate NBA player. However, he lacks the plus-plus speed, the shooting touch, the ability to deal decisively in defending screens and the under-control left-handed handle to be a consistently effective point guard.

His biggest asset, though, is he’s only 20 years old. Even so, the flaws in Mudiay’s game just might be too profound for him to ever surmount.

In any event, because of his youth, Mudiay gets by with a grade of “Incomplete.”

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