As the 2015 NBA Draft was approaching, the Denver Nuggets were in desperate need of a young point guard whom they could transform to become a staple of their franchise. Prior to that point, the Nuggets had been indulging in the luxury of a prime Ty Lawson, but following multiple encounters with law enforcement, the Denver Nuggets recognized it was time to move on.
Thus, on June 25, 2015, the Denver Nuggets took what was widely believed to be the second-best point guard in the draft, Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay was scarcely recognized by the average NBA fan because of his decision to play in China, rather than the collegiate level. Despite his decision, Mudiay’s undeniable potential resulted in his selection of seventh overall.
As Mudiay entered the league, it was apparent he remained a very raw prospect. Nevertheless, he saw extensive playing time due to the mediocrity of Denver at the time. He started 66 of the 68 games he played and averaged right above 30 minutes per game. Mudiay averaged nearly 13 points per game on a dreadful 36.4%. He also showed to be an ineffective passer as he averaged right above five assists to go along with three turnovers a game.
On the other side of the ball, Mudiay also demonstrated his lack of fundamental defense; something the Nuggets hoped he could provide, given his size and wingspan. He posted a 110 defensive rating, which was tied for second-worst out of any player selected in the top 10 in 2015 and recorded negative in all but one advanced metric.
NBA scout: 'It’s easy to forget Emmanuel Mudiay exists' https://t.co/I1hSdi244A
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 11, 2017
His inefficient play carried on through the 2016-17 NBA season as well. With the rejuvenation of point guard, Jameer Nelson, and their hopes to develop Jamal Murray, Mudiay struggled to find consistent minutes on the Nuggets team (particularly in the latter half of the season as he battled with injury and ultimately vanished into the rotation).
Mudiay’s overall effectiveness on the court did not improve at all, to say the least. His lack of an outside shot and defensive incompetence translated into becoming a liability for Denver.
Currently, Mudiay remains a huge conundrum for the Denver Nuggets. He has showcased sprinkles of talent in the 2017 NBA preseason, but without a true sample size, it remains difficult to establish an effective role for him.
— BALLGOD (@theballgod) October 1, 2017
For Mudiay to sustain longevity within the league, immediate improvements are substantial. Whether it be on the Denver Nuggets or as apart of a different franchise, this year will be a career-defining one for Mudiay. Failure to show significant development within the two final seasons of his contract could prove to be detrimental to his career financially.