Emmanuel Mudiay had the most volatile season of anyone on the Nuggets' roster as he went from unquestioned starter to out of the rotation completely, as Jamal Murray took over his role as the backup point guard mid-way through the season.
Mudiay had a lot of bad moments and some good ones but overall his season was a struggle. The 21-years-old is still young, so there's reason to believe he can improve but Mudiay needs to take a leap this offseason to prove he still belongs in the conversation for Denver's future starting point guard.
Mudiay struggled most of the year and averaged just 11 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 25.6 minutes per game and shot just 37.7 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from 3-point distance. Due to injury and DNP-CD's, Mudiay did not play in 26 of Denver's last 40 games.
Harrison: Mudiay wasn’t helped by the lineups he played with at the beginning of the season and showed over the last quarter of the year that there’s potential for him to settle into a backup role, but both of those explanations don’t make up for the fact Mudiay didn’t get better last summer and this year. That makes this offseason that much more pivotal in shaping the young point guard’s future.
Joel: I'd give Mudiay a lower grade, but in important ways, he was set up to fail by starting in lineups which squelched his strengths and magnified his weaknesses. That said, there's no getting around the fact he just had a bad season.
Kalen: Mudiay was without question the most disappointing player on the roster this season. With how impressive he was at times during his rookie campaign I think I speak for most fans in saying I expected another huge step forward rather than a regression to the bench.
T.J.: Last offseason I said that I thought Mudiay would take a leap so big that he would be considered for Most Improved Player of the Year votes. Obviously, none of that was true and Mudiay arguably took a step backward from his rookie season. Mudiay's sophomore campaign was a flop. His offense was atrocious, he played uninterested defense, and he continued to struggle to finish at the rim and handling the ball. There was little to no development made and overall Mudiay's season was a failure in my mind.
What aspect of Mudiay's game did he improve on most this season?
Harrison: His 3-point percentage took a slight drop from 31.9 to 31.5 percent in his second year, but he did shoot 35.8 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers from three, a slight uptick from the 34.6 he shot in his rookie season, which is not an awful number. He also shot 78.4 percent from the line after falling below 70 percent during his rookie year.
Joel: The only aspect of his game which noticeably improved was his free throw percentage, which rose significantly from .670 to .784. Unfortunately, his development was otherwise stagnant.
Kalen:Towards the end of the year Mudiay was playing more like a point than a two, which has been my biggest gripe with him thus far. Other than that, he seemed to get worse in many areas rather than better.
T.J.: Mudiay began shooting much better off the catch. When he takes to catch and shoot three-pointers his shooting percentage is a respectable 36.1 compared to 31.6 percent that he shot on the year from deep. If Mudiay hopes to become positive on the offensive end of the floor then he needs to learn to score off-ball and shooting off the catch is the starting point of that development.
What does Mudiay need to work on this upcoming offseason?
Harrison: Ball handling, defense, shooting, running an offense, really everything. Mudiay, given his tools and frame still has a relatively high ceiling, but he has to start inching towards that potential to prove he deserves a spot in Denver’s rotation next year, something he didn’t have for parts of this season.
Joel: Everything, which sadly is the same answer as last year. But it is really up to the coaching staff to identify ways to maximize his effectiveness, such as putting him in with lineups that create a lot of spacing for him to drive and kick rather than clogging the lane, and work with him on improving the specific skill areas - ball handling and footwork perhaps first and foremost among them - which will best facilitate that process.
Kalen: Again, Mudiay has to learn how to think like a point guard. He’s one of the most gifted athletes on this roster and truly has star potential based on his physical attributes. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have the mentality needed to succeed at the highest level, which is worrisome. If Mudiay wants to make a long career of playing in the U.S. as opposed to China he has to start thinking like a point guard rather than a shoot-first wing.
T.J.: Playing to his own strengths. Anyone who watches Mudiay take double-clutch, fadeaway, long two's could tell you that he should not be taking those shots. If Mudiay can get back to slicing into the lane and kicking out to shooters, he can start showing off his creativity and vision as a facilitator again and could be a big-time asset for Denver moving forward. There is a role in Denver for Mudiay if he is willing to play to his own strengths.