Last night, the Denver Nuggets squared off against the undefeated Golden State Warriors, and they lost, as I’m sure you guessed. But that’s not the story of the game. The story of the game was the matchup between rookie sensation Emmanuel Mudiay and reigning MVP Stephen Curry. And while Curry easily outplayed his 19-year-old counterpart, the matchup should be viewed as an extremely positive sign for the Denver Nuggets.
Mudiay clearly had an extra bounce in his step, as he took 21 shots on the night, five more than anyone else in the game. And although only 29 percent of them actually went through the net, the signs were clearly there.
Just look at this:
ICYMI: The Warriors won, but Emmanuel Mudiay smoked the reigning MVP with this crossover off a screen to set up a 3: https://t.co/EqShG4Ed7I
— ESPN (@espn) November 23, 2015
And yeah, the Nuggets lost by 13 points, but this was one of the closest games the Warriors have played during their undefeated 15-0 start. Much like they were against the Spurs a few nights ago, Denver was competitive; that’s about all you can ask for right now.
There just not there yet. And we shouldn’t expect them to be.
Again, this was a team that was predicted to win 26.5 games by Vegas before the season; they’re currently on pace to win 35, and they’ve had an extremely tough schedule to start the season — seven of their last 12 opponents were in the playoffs last year; the others included Phoenix (twice), Utah and Oklahoma City, three teams considered to be strong playoff contenders in 2015.
While we love to condemn the idea, moral victories are important for the Nuggets right now. Just look at the other side of the court. The Warriors didn’t just wake up one morning as the best team in the NBA; they had to develop, over several years.
Nobody knows that more than Steph Curry, and he had some important advice for Emmanuel Mudiay.
Another Warriors win, another walkoff interview for Stephen Curry (I liked his message for Mudiay at the end) https://t.co/eMFkl3Boly
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) November 23, 2015
Curry and Mudiay are very different players, but Mudiay would be wise to take any and all advice he can get from Curry. I’m sure it means a lot.