Emmanuel Mudiay

Justise Winslow working on cleaning up jump shot this summer

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Playing in both the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, Justise Winslow showed some flashes of why he felt like a steal for Miami at No. 10. You could see the athleticism on both ends of the floor, he played at pace but under control, he had solid handles, and he knew how to attack the rim and use his body to draw calls.

But his shot needed work. He hit just 34.2 percent overall and 25 percent from three (3-of-12) across the two summer leagues. There seemed to be a little hitch in his release.

That’s what he’s been working on with Heat coaches through the rest of the summer, Winslow told the Miami Herald.

“I definitely feel comfortable shooting from three-point range but it’s working on everything: pull-ups, mid-range, posting up, finishing. There has been a huge emphasis on my shooting mechanics, trying to get everything more fluid and more natural so I can become a better three-point shooter. But there hasn’t been an over-emphasis on three-point shooting.”

 

Winslow shot the ball fairly well at Duke (41 percent from three) and was impressive in the tournament, but he needs to clean everything up now that defenders are faster and longer.

Winslow is should get plenty of run off the bench for the Heat this season, and in a system that suits his strengths. He’s probably not going to get the touches needed to get the numbers for Rookie of the Year (not with Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay getting the keys to their respective franchises) but he’s going to look good fast. And get better from there.

So long as that shot starts to fall.

Justise Winslow reportedly aced pre-draft interviews. So why did he fall?

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Our own Scott Dargis described Justise Winslow’s draft range as the Knicks at No. 4 through the Heat at No. 10, but it’s difficult  to find others who thought there was even a chance Winslow would fall all the way to Miami.

Here’s how a few rated the Duke forward:

Most seemed to agree he was a clear tier above the players below him on those lists, too.

But Winslow slipped to the Heat at No. 10.

What did NBA teams see that so many of us didn’t?

Whatever it was, it apparently didn’t come out during pre-draft interviews.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

Twenty-nine teams rolled their eyes in June when Justise Winslow fell to Miami at no. 10 in the draft. Winslow may never become a star, but he has a chance at it, and he blew away executives during the draft interview process.

Lowe is plugged in enough to know how teams perceived Winslow’s interviews. I believe, if there were a major red flag, it didn’t pop up there.

My working theory: The NBA consensus on Winslow was about as high as perceived – and if not quite, within the reasonable margin for error – but the teams picking before the Heat just happened not to like him as much.

Taking Winslow No. 4 would have been too high, and the Knicks made a better call with Kristaps Porzingis. I wasn’t as high on Hezonja as most, but few complained about the Magic taking him at No. 5. Admittedly, his upside is incredible. If a team has an appetite for risk, Hezonja made sense over the safer Winslow.

With respect to Winslow, it really got interesting at No. 6.

The Kings, who picked Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 6, deserve little benefit of the doubt for their drafting acumen. I rated Emmanuel Mudiay higher than Winslow, so I don’t knock Denver for picking the point guard at No. 7. The Pistons took Stanley Johnson over Winslow at No. 8, but that could just be a minority opinion. The Hornets are clearly in win-now mode, so polished senior Frank Kaminsky appealed to them at No. 9. Plus, Michael Jordan is hardly a reputable drafter.

So, a few teams didn’t like Winslow. It doesn’t mean the NBA as a whole thought less of him than it appeared.

If the Celtics were drafting before Miami, they would have taken him – and they offered a boatload of draft picks for that opportunity. I suspect many other teams would have drafted him sooner if positioned to do so.

Maybe something will emerge about why Winslow fell, but it darn sure wasn’t how he played at Duke, and it apparently wasn’t his pre-draft interviews. We’re running out of possibilities.

Kenneth Faried excited to see what Emmanuel Mudiay will do in Denver

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Kenneth Faried doesn’t want to hear it — no competitor does — but the reality is this is going to be a bit of a rebuilding campaign in Denver. They are not a playoff bound team, certainly not in the West; rather this is a year to fit in the pieces under new coach Mike Malone and build a foundation.

But when you have a rookie point guard there will be rough patches, and the Nuggets are going to have a rookie point guard — Emmanuel Mudiay.

Faried, for one, wants to see what the kid can bring. That’s what he told rappler.com while over in the Philippines.

“I have high expectations for him because he’s basically going to be our starting point guard and the Nuggets have high expectations,” said Faried, who signed a 4-year, $50 million rookie extension with Denver in October 2014.

“I just want to make sure he’s coached – that’s the only thing I want to make sure. I’m pretty sure he is and everybody says he is so I’m excited to see what happens.”

Mudiay impressed in Las Vegas at Summer League, in part because while all the other rookies were playing frenetic ball, looking like chickens with their heads cut off, Mudiay was patient and under control. He knew how to use his body to create space and draw contact, plus he showed fantastic court vision.

He also looked like a rookie at times and his shooting needs work. Which means it’s going to be a bumpy ride in Denver while he finds his footing in the NBA.

The Nuggets have veterans who can make Mudiay’s life easier — Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler — but it’s going to take time. Particularly with a new coach and a new system. Nuggets fans, who have already seen some ugly basketball the past few years, are going to get more of it this season. But this time there is some real hope for what could be built.

Report: Veteran guard Will Bynum signs in China

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Last season, Will Bynum played in China for most of the year with the Guangdong Southern Tigers before signing with the Wizards at the end of the regular season. Bynum has been a solid backup point guard throughout his career, but he’s been unable to stick in the NBA since leaving the Pistons in 2014.

Unable to secure an NBA deal this summer, David Pick reports that Bynum is heading back to China:

Bynum had a successful season with the Tigers, who signed him as a replacement for Emmanuel Mudiay, who battled ankle problems in his single season overseas before ultimately becoming the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft. If Bynum wants playing time, he’s more likely to find it in China than he is in the NBA. But it still wouldn’t be surprising to see a team pick him up in March after the CBA season is over.

NBA rookie survey suggests Karl-Anthony Towns over Jahlil Okafor was a mistake

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Most NBA teams would have picked Karl-Anthony Towns over Jahlil Okafor with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. I would have. The Timberwolves did.

But a plurality of NBA rookies prefer Okafor, who went No. 3 to the 76ers.

Two responses in NBA.com’s annual rookie survey reveal that:

Who will be the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year?

1. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia — 41.9 percent

2. Stanley Johnson, Detroit — 19.4 percent

3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota — 12.9 percent

T-4. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver — 9.7 percent

D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers — 9.7 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Trey Lyles, Utah

Which rookie will have the best career?

Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia — 24.1 percent

2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota — 17.2 percent

T-3. Justin Anderson, Dallas — 13.8 percent

Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver — 13.8 percent

5. Stanley Johnson, Detroit — 8.0 percent

6. Sam Dekker, Houston — 6.9 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Bobby Portis, Chicago; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Kristaps Porzingis, New York; D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers; Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee

Picking Okafor for Rookie of the Year doesn’t necessarily mean he should have gone No. 1. The former Duke center is exceptionally polished offensively, and he should fill a big role on the lowly 76ers.

But the “best career” question is essentially asking who should have gone No. 1 – especially considering Towns and Okafor play the same position. Perhaps, a majority of respondents who took a third candidate would have taken Towns over Okafor, changing results of a run-off race. But with the information we have, plurality rules.

The survey also includes other interesting (Mavericks’ Justin Anderson as most athletic), unsurprising (Suns’ Devin Booker as best shooter) and surprising (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as best defender) responses. Willie Cauley-Stein went No. 6 to the Kings largely based on his ability to guard the interior and exterior. If he’s not elite defensively – and his peers don’t rate him that way, ranking him fourth with 5.9% of votes – questions about his offense and rebounding become more significant.

For the second straight year, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James ranked 1-2-3 as rookies’ favorite players.

Of course, don’t take these responses as gospel. Despite 13.8% of respondents – tied for third most – picking Anderson to have the best career, nobody voted for him as the draft’s biggest steal. How you can think the No. 21 pick will have the best career yet isn’t the draft’s biggest steal is beyond me.