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Denver Stiffs NBA Draft Prospect: Džanan Musa

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Will a young, aggressive, European wing scorer be what the Nuggets need next season and beyond?

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Džanan Musa’s Twitter page, @DzananM13

Zhaire Smith | Robert Williams | Keita Bates-Diop | Miles Bridges | Josh Okogie | Chandler Hutchison | Chandler Hutchison

Summary

Džanan Musa is an international big wing player who recently worked out for the Nuggets. At 6’8, Musa has the size profile, and with his scoring instincts, it’s easy to see him make an impact on the offensive end of the floor. That being said, as promising as his offense is, his defense is just as concerning. He also has had notable attitude issues, especially for a Nuggets team that studied to reign in another Bosnian - Jusuf Nurkic. Musa could go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round, but if Denver’s primary goal is to add wing defenders, he’s probably not the guy.

Measurables

Age: 19

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 190 lbs

Wingspan: 7’0”

Standing Reach: Unknown

Stats

Player Points/gm Rebounds/gm Assists/gm Steals/gm Blocks/gm Field Goal % Three-Point % Free Throw %
Džanan Musa 12.4 3.5 1.9 1.0 0.2 47.0 31.3 80.4

Strengths

Aggressive Scorer. Nobody will ever have to tell Džanan Musa to stop shooting. This European wing butters his bread by taking shots at a high rate, and it shows in the numbers. Musa generated a nearly 25% usage rate during his final season for Cedevita, one of the highest rates on the team at just 18 and 19.

(h/t kovac films)

It’s very clear that Musa’s ball handling helps him get to the rim, and he’s worked at that in his time as a pro. The biggest factor though? Musa just wants to score on everybody. Like Jamal Murray, Musa is always aggressive, searching for his own shot, within or outside the flow of the offense. He’s still a good scorer though. His true shooting percentage of 60.3% during all competitions this year reflects that. It shows up when attacking the rim with nice touch. It shows up at the free throw line, where his free throw percentage of 80.4% reflects natural shooting talent and hard work together.

A lot of factors reflect that he could be a solid scorer at the NBA level, and not just another Mario Hezonja.

Outside Shooting Potential. What separates Musa from some of the prospects in the states is the type of three-point shots he takes for Cedevita. Here are three separate images of shots he attempted in a professional competition.

kovac films
kovac films
kovac films

Now, when I get to the weaknesses section and “shot selection” please refer back to these pictures. What interests me about these three pictures: he’s clearly allowed to take these shots by the system. The other four players on the floor seem to trust and understand that this is within his range and scope of role for the team. If he were to play in the NBA, it could go one of three ways: he could continue taking poor shots and either learn to make them more frequently, he could take bad shots...and they would just be bad shots, or he scales it back and takes better shots in a system that generates good looks for him.

He shot just 31.3% on threes this year, and it’s no wonder given the shot selection. The high free throw percentage and quality form indicate that regression toward a higher percentage may come when he plays in the NBA. It might not, but I’d be willing to bet on him being a 35% shooter in the NBA or better. If he’s much better, then he becomes much more valuable.

Size profile. At 6’8, Musa is the prototypical size of a scoring wing that can shoot over smaller players and take advantage of mismatches. He is just 190 pounds, but the weight training in the states is simply different, and Musa may put on as much as 30 pounds playing in the NBA. Initially, it will be easy to score on him and defend him at stick figure size, but as he develops, that will likely change. It’s easy to see Musa learning to score and pass at a high level at his size, given the tools he already has in his tool box.

Weaknesses (Concerns)

Defense. Again, at 190 pounds, and given the film he’s already put out there as a defender, he’s going to struggle in the NBA for a couple of years defending the Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and James Harden types. Heck, he profiles as a guy that Wilson Chandler would take to the post and put up an easy 20 points. That’s a major concern for his long term profile, and he will have to make major strides to become an average defender, and borderline impossible strides to become a good one.

Shot Selection. See above.

Attitude Concerns. In a video posted by the Indy Star, Musa talks about how Jusuf Nurkic has been a mentor to him throughout the growing up process, telling him how to approach draft workouts, talk to teams, and be a professional. Both are Bosnian, so it makes sense that Musa would take advice from someone of his country that also made the NBA.

It’s also dangerous for Denver.

I can’t imagine Nurkic had many glowing things to say about the Nuggets organization to Musa. Having that relationship start off on the wrong foot could be an issue. This is something the Nuggets surely discussed with him in their draft workout of him last week, so they will know better than anybody whether he will be okay in a Nuggets uniform. Still, it’s an important question to ask.

Furthermore, like Nurkic, Musa also happens to idolize Kobe Bryant, which could be an issue if Musa struggles to fit into the culture Denver has established. If someone thinks they’re the best player on the team and should be taking the shots, it’s fine, as long as they make the most of their opportunities and don’t cause chemistry issues. It will be interesting to see, if the Nuggets end up taking Musa, how he fits within the dynamic of the team around an already established young core.

Fit with the Nuggets

Musa is a long term play for the Nuggets. He’s not going to be an immediate contributor, as he has a lot of work to do in the weight room, some shot selection issues to iron out, and overall development needed. If Denver had a second first round pick, I’d actually recommend taking a chance on him. Denver needs a small forward of the future, and Musa would have a better chance than anyone on the current roster to be that guy.

That being said, the Cedevita product just doesn’t fit the profile of what Denver needs right now - a player willing to fit in and do the little things rather than wanting to do the big things immediately. Denver needs a guy willing to defend, willing to pass up an okay shot and move it for a great shot. They also need a guy with the ability to contribute now, and if Musa can’t make the offense better immediately, and he doesn’t make the defense better at all, then it’s tough to use the 14th pick on him.

If Denver traded down and acquired another selection, maybe he’s a player to take a chance on. At this point though, I don’t see Denver considering him at the 14th pick, and I doubt he lasts until 43rd.