You can call it a “fetish” or what-not, but there’s something about an NBA Point Guard who branches out with at least a three-to-four inch height advantage over their matchups, that intrigues me.

At least, however, it’s nothing seductively explicit.

But for a player like Emmanuel Mudiay, he patently falls into the category.

Mudiay, who’s now dawned into his third year (yes, you read it correctly) of playing proffesionally organized basketball. For those who either forgot or never knew, he made a healthy decision to bypass college and embark on a brief, one-year stint, to play in China.

Well before June of 2015, the 6’5″ High-School All-American was already highly-touted as the best Point Guard, coming into the NBA Draft — and for those who were able to watch him closely, you weren’t able to turn your head at them. We refer back to a few other prospects who were beginning to thrive into the “hype” such as former Kentucky big-man Karl-Anthony Towns, who went number-one overall, fromer Ohio a state Guard D’Angelo Russell went second, and former Duke star Jahlil Okafor, fell to third. As for Mudiay,who was expected to reach top-4 potential, dropped to seventh, which seemed like a perfect situation for him.

After seeing comparisons to Wizards’ star John Wall, the bar was set exceedingly high for the then eighteen year-old Guard. But in the early stages of his career, Mudiay hasn’t shown much fear, nor has he backed down from the challenge of competing at a very high level, amongst the league’s most prolific floor-generals:

We’ve seen some promising moments from this youngster — some good, and some a little disheartening, maybe. But as expected, Emmanuel’s been able to have the ball in his hands frequently under Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, and has already established himself as a highly-capable talent.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics.

SCORING 

2015-16: 30.4 MPG, 12.8 PPG, 36% FG, 31% 3PT, 67% FT, 40% EFG.

2016-17: 29.1 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 38% FG, 33% 3PT, 78% FT, 43% EFG.

Mudiay has been aggresvively looking to find his bread-and-butter within the offense, and has gotten the run of doing so. But as this isn’t news to anyone, if we’ve learned anything about Emmanuel coming into the NBA, scoring at an efficient rate has never been his go-to presence. He’s a slasher/cutter that uses his much-needed height and length to not only get passed smaller defenders, but to also raise up and shoot right over them.

But regardless, he’s still had difficulties adjusting to the NBA-level of defense, shooting just 29% from anywhere outside of three-feet of the basket. But with his athletic ability and improved patience, we’re starting so see much better percentages from him — especially from the free-throw line. Mudiay is going to give you everything in the box score. Him adding on to his finishing abilities will only make him more fearsome offensively.

NOTE*** In comparison to the 2015-16 season, Mudiay has improved percentages in two-point percentage, assisted field-goals, corner-threes, and anywhere within 16-feet of the basket in 2016-17.

DEFENDING

2015-16: 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 110.8 DEFRTG.

2016-17: 1.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 107.1 DEFRTG.

I believe this should be the brightest aspect of Mudiay’s overall talent. He’s a capable and long defender of course — and as I’ve said earlier, his height and length gives him the advantage over most guards, and it’s what’s brought him into the NBA.

But unfortunately, defense hasn’t been great for Mudiay either. As you can see, his defensive rating has taken a slight decrease from last year, as Denver as a team has went up (106.4 in 2015-16 and 108.9 in 2016-17). But even still, he allows players to shoot 39% on three-pointers against him, and about 49.8% from the field overall. Mudiay ranks #302 in Defensive Box Plus/Minus at -1.3.

If we think about his draft-comparison to Wall, it made sense for a while, but it’s not as close as many made it to be. Obviously Mudiay just has so much to learn on the offensive end, as well as on defense.

PASSING AND BALL-HANDLING

2015-16: 5.5 APG, 3.2 TOPG.

2016-17: 3.8 APG, 2.7 TOPG. 

It’s definitely not the greatest thing to see your starting Point Guard take a dip in assists. It’s his primary job to continue finding open players to score. But for Mudiay, he’s still an effective ball-distributor regardless. It may be an underrated part of his game, because many look towards his turnovers.

18% of Emmanuel’s assists are coming off of scores from Nikola Jokic, which is a team-high in 2016-17. But it’s Jokic, who’ an improved passer, might’ve taken part in Mudiay’s less-effective assist-rating. But in terms of watching Mudiay/Jokic on the pick-and-roll, it could be a very deadly weapon as time goes on.

Intriguing, to say the least.

In conclusion, Emmanuel Mudiay is still 20 years-old, and hasn’t shown anything less of commitment. He wants to learn, develop, and grow into an elite Point Guard. It’s going to take some serious work, and even he knows it:

” I’m just trying to be aggressive and play my game.” Mudiay told reporters after putting up big numbers in  a recent loss to the Sixers. “But it doesn’t mean nothing when we lose. We just have to regroup, getting back in the gym and clean some stuff up.”

The Nuggets, who are sitting near the eight-spot in the Western Conference, are currently embarking on a tough road-stretch. It’ll be up for Mudiay to pick up his play and lead his team.

Will the Nuggets make the postseason for the first time since 2013?

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