Wait, isn’t shooting supposed to be Emmanuel Mudiay’s big weakness? You wouldn’t know it from an off-balance, 36-foot shot he took Wednesday night, one that hit its mark and gave his Denver Nuggets a stunning, last-second win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Of course, it’s never stunning when the Sixers lose — the team fell to 9-63 with its 104-103 defeat in Denver — but just look at the degree of difficulty on that shot. Not only did it come from a few steps past half-court, but Mudiay heaved it up after almost losing the ball in traffic, and while falling to his left. Here’s another look:
— NBA (@NBA) March 24, 2016
That is a strong contender for wildest game-winning shot of the NBA season. This from a 20-year-old rookie who came into the game shooting just .352 from the field and .305 from three-point range.
Despite that rather large hole in his game, Mudiay gave Nuggets fans plenty of reason to feel excited well before Wednesday’s win. He has shown the attacking ability for which he was touted while becoming the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft, along with passing skills that have earned him a solid 5.6 assists-per-game average.
Even in Denver’s mile-high locale, the sky appears to be the limit for Mudiay, who took the unorthodox route of playing in China straight out of high school. Injuries limited him to just 12 games that season, so he entered the NBA as quite the raw, relatively unknown commodity.
Getting an extended run as a professional appears to be doing Mudiay’s skill-set a world of good. In 11 games in March before Wednesday, the rookie out of Dallas had upped his averages in scoring and rebounding, and his shooting had vastly improved, to .405 from the field and .400 on three-pointers.
Mudiay’s overall shooting against the 76ers was still not great, but his 10-for-23 outing works out to .435, and includes going three for five from behind the arc. His game-winner, of course, came from way behind the three-point line, and both the team and its fans have to be delighted with what they’re seeing.