Emmanuel Mudiay Can be a Star But Must Nail Down Essentials First

Oct 14, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) dribbles the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 14, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) dribbles the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets may have actually found a gem with their #7 overall pick in last years draft, but Emmanuel Mudiay was first master the essentials.

This season has seen a relatively hit and miss campaign so far for Denver Nuggets’ guard Emmanuel Mudiay.

Nuggets fans have witnessed various lackluster and head-scratching performances from the second year out of Congo, but amongst those was some real moments of sheer brilliance.

And with a number of starts under his belt already this campaign, we find ourselves asking why he has been so inconsistent? Watching Mudiay game-by-game seems gruesome at times, but it shows that he has NBA stardom potential waiting to be completely unlocked.

After a 20+ point first quarter this season, Mudiay continues to prove that the stardom is THERE, but how can coach Malone and his staff calm Mudiay down for a full game? After seeing and hearing poor posts from everyone concerning Mudiay, it is time we back our future point guard.

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The 20-year-old is still far from his prime, and the Denver Nuggets must remember that before making too many rash decisions.

So with all that said, why has Emmanuel Mudiay been struggling?

Nov 8, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) reacts during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Denver Nuggets 108-107. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Criticism

Since the season opener, Mudiay has unfortunately taken the brunt of some heavy criticism after difficult Nugget losses. And whilst it is easy to point fingers at the point guard, some of the criticism may be unfair.

But there is a reasonable theory towards Mudiay’s doubters: it is plausible Nuggets fans are continuously raising questions about the 2nd year point guard, simply because they know how massive his potential is. And sometimes, the desperation for him to meet it can all be a little too much.

Mudiay finds himself in a fortuitous position for a young guard who needs playing time. He’s in a team without massive depth and arguably quality in the backcourt.

So, he’s able to start almost every game, gaining an abundance of experience whilst doing so – compared to rosters stacked within the guard positions.

In turn, it is down to the Congolese to make use of opportunities, nailing down the position as his own for the future.

Nov 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) defends Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Raptors won 113-111 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) defends Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Raptors won 113-111 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Why the struggles?

Turnovers

As we scratch our heads following another Mudiay turnover,  we begin to wonder if the playmaker is perhaps trying too hard to force a play that simply is not there.

Nov 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at the Pepsi Center. The Raptors won 113-111 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

For me, one of the principal focuses of Mudiay’s game should be protecting the ball. The guard has 46 turnovers already this season, with seven coming against the Grizzlies alone. Mudiay needs to protect the rock.

This will see his team with more chances at the hoop but It’s easier said than done. Mudiay has averaged 4.3 turnovers per game while maintaining only 3.9 assists per game. This ratio is one of the worst of all starting point guard in the NBA, and it is something that needs fixed in this future star point guard.

However, we have witnessed just how good this rising star can be. And with experience this will only improve, as we saw this week against the Suns, proving his capability with zero turnovers and a couple of steals on the other end.

Nov 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) pressures Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Raptors won 113-111 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Distribution

Another component to his developing game: distributing the ball, has also seen blips.

There was nothing more satisfying than seeing Mudiay lighting it up in the first quarter in Boston, hitting a season high 30 points with 24 coming in the first 12 minutes.

But, the reality is: Mudiay’s prerogative is to run the floor and open the lanes. And with an average of 3.5 assists per game, there needs to be more.

After a zero assist performance against Portland earlier this week, Mudiay was able to bounce-back against Phoenix with an improved six assists, nothing flashy but it’s improvement.

And eventually, we’ll be hoping to see the 20-year-old distribute with consistency. It’s another part of the players’ game he should be looking to prioritize.

And as the assists come along, then the pressure of scoring himself eases, allowing for more freedom but with less emphasis on putting up big points, as his scoring is a bonus.

Mudiay’s biggest concern right now is that he needs to focus more on working the offense and running that than getting his own shot. If he can start to do this, it will help both him and his teammates in the long run.

Nov 10, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic (15) defends as guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) dribbles the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Patience

Defensively, Mudiay has also been questionable. But as he continues to learn each game, his discipline will surely improve. With guidance from Jameer Nelson and newly added Alonzo Gee, the guard will have some pressure relieved from him, and with patience, Mudiay will adapt even further to the immense standards of this league.

With guidance from Jameer Nelson and newly added Alonzo Gee, the guard will have some pressure relieved from him, and with patience, Mudiay will adapt even further to the immense standards of this league.

Ultimately, when at full flow, Mudiay is easily one of the most exciting guys to witness in this roster. If Malone nurtures him correctly and protects him when necessary, the youngster will surely get people off their seats at the Pepsi Centre. And hopefully, maybe not this year, but one day soon, surge this team back to where they belong: in the NBA Playoffs.

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