Jake Rauchbach coached at the collegiate level, founded The MindRight Pro Program and trained numerous professional and Olympic athletes. Now, Rauchbach provides high performance analysis on the NBA and college basketball and serves as the Player Performance Specialist for Temple University's men's basketball team.
Emmanuel Mudiay started off the season strong, posting averages of 13.9 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, and 4.4 rebounds per game through November. Since then, Mudiay’s production has slipped month by month. The Nuggets’ guard is currently averaging 7.3 points per game through February. When comparing Mudiay’s statistical output from last season to this season, it’s a mixed bag. Mudiay’s scoring (12.8 points to 11.8), and three point shooting percentage are down, respectively, when compared to last season, but rebounding and field goal percentages are up slightly.
Mudiay has the physical tools required to be a high-level scorer and defender from the point guard position in this league. However, for Mudiay to be the impact player that many believe he can be in Denver, there are several areas of his game that he will need to improve. Let’s break down Mudiay’s game and determine his strengths and weaknesses and ways he can improve his performance inefficiencies.
Statistics: 11.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.5 rpg, 37% FG, 76% FT, 31% 3PT (47 Games)
Isolation Scoring Efficiency – Mudiay is a gifted one-on- one player, averaging .95 points per possession, ranking him in the 73rd percentile in the league. His loves to ISO defenders from the top of the key and drive them hard left. He can change direction via his spin move and has a silky smooth fade away mid range jumper that he uses to create space for scoring opportunities.
From the top of the key, Mudiay ranks as the 5th most efficient one-on- one player in the league.
ISO Facilitation for Teammates – When taking his man off of the dribble, Mudiay does a superb job of finding teammates. So far this season, he is the second best player in the league (99th percentile), in finding teammates for scoring opportunities when going one-on- one. Mudiay is averaging 1.5 points per possession in these situations. Take a look at how Mudiay gets to his spot by breaking his man down off of the dribble.
He possesses good poise when he gets in the lane. Because of this, he does a good job finding cutters and spot up jump shooters. Take note of how Mudiay gets to the dotted line area, comes to a jump stop on balance, and when the defense commits to him, he’s able to find Nikola Jokic for a lay-in. Finding a way to transfer the poise he exhibits when facilitating for teammates in ISO situations to other parts of his game will help Mudiay expedite improvement with the weaknesses in his game.
P&R Facilitation for teammates – Mudiay is also efficient finding teammates out of pick and roll action. Despite being just an average P&R player at this point, (in the 33rd percentile in the league), Mudiay ranks in the 79th and 66th percentiles in the league in scoring efficiency when hitting the roll man, and cutter, respectively, out of ball screen action per Synergy. Interestingly, when hitting the spot up guy, Mudiay’s numbers are just average in P&Rs.
Guarding The P&R Ball handler – 40% of Mudiay’s defensive possessions are in pick and roll situations. This is a good thing, as Mudiay is a strong defender in these situations. He uses his length and good anticipation to make it hard for guards coming off ball screens. This season he ranks in the 68th percentile in PNR defensive efficiency. He is especially adept at trailing his offensive man over the pick and getting back in front of him or forcing him into the defensive help. Below, Mudiay tracks Tony Parker under a ball screen and then recovers to chase him over another, forcing the Spurs guard into a turnover.
One-on-one defense - Mudiay’s isolation defense is also good. He ranks in the 50th percentile in the league in this regard. He seems to be more effective in right side ISO situations, where he has allowed just 6 points on 10 possessions. He does a decent job spacing players who like to drive it, making them take contested jump shots. Against shooters, he also does a good job crowding them off of their shot. Improving his ISO and overall defensive game could give him the chance to become an elite level defender in the league.
Transition Decision Making – One glaring deficit in Mudiay’s game is that he has not been effective in transition this season. He ranks in the 8th percentile in the league, averaging just .77 points per transition possession in transition. He often makes poor decisions with the ball, turning the ball over 35% of the time on the break as the ball handler. When running the lane on the left wing, he has also struggled, ranking in the 6th percentile in scoring efficiency. One way to improve this part of his game is to watch more film of himself in these situations. Another way is to sharpen his focus by improving pre-game preparation. This could allow him to limit the mental lapses, which seem to occur for Mudiay in transition.
Catch and Shoot – It is no secret, that at this point in his career, Mudiay is not a knock down shooter. His shooting form seems to vary from shot to shot and often will come into his release off balance, and the leg kick at the tail end of this shot also does not help. It is no wonder that his career shooting percentages have not been that high. He currently ranks in the bottom 25th percentile in the league with catch and shoot situations, converting 81 points on 66 possessions.
Improving his jumper and creating consistency by improving his focus will be imperative for Mudiay to create the balance in his game that he and the Nuggets need in order to develop.
Chasing Man through Screens – Mudiay ranks in the 22 nd percentile in the league when guarding in off the ball screening situations. He at times falls asleep, allowing his man to get a step on him over screens. This again, all goes back to how locked-in and focused Mudiay is consistently over the course of the game. Working on increasing his focus will improve his adherence to the defensive game plan, in turn improving his ability to guard his man through screens consistently throughout the game.
Hand Off Defense – Many times on dribble hand off opportunities, (DHOs) Mudiay will take bad routes to catch up with his man if he gets beat on the initial rub. It seems that he again loses focus at times in these situations, and when he does, his offensive man senses this and creates space between himself and Mudiay via the hand off. Mudiay currently ranks in the 13th percentile in the league in this category in DHOs, allowing 29 points on 25 possessions, with shooting 60% in these situations.
Improving Mudiay’s Overall Performance
Employing a player development high performance system geared towards eliminating any sort of blocks held on the unconscious level causing the mental lapses Mudiay appears to be experiencing, combined with the on-court skill work that Mudiay is surely already getting from Nugget’s coaching staff, could have the effect of increasing Mudiay’s performance consistency. Combining this sharpened focus with his on-court skill development could be the thing Mudiay needs to dramatically and consistently step up his performance over the course of the season.
* All statistics are courtesy of Synergy and Basketball-Reference.com and are current as of February 6, 2017.