BOULDER – Emmanuel Mudiay hears all the talk and simply shrugs it off – the good and the not as good. But this week, it has been nothing but good as the third-year point guard has started out of the gate quickly with stellar play in training camp.
“Emmanuel’s had a great camp so far,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Every facet of Emmanuel’s game right now looks improved. The bigger challenge is going to be, can we take – not just Emmanuel, but everybody – from a camp to a game situation on Saturday against a very talented (Golden State) team. But, his jump shot, his handle, his decision-making, his pace… you can tell he’s put a lot of work in this summer.”
That started with conditioning. Mudiay said he’s down to 199 pounds, which is roughly 12 pounds lighter from where he ended last season.
Getting there, “I did a lot of running,” Mudiay said. “Just staying on myself, trying to be as disciplined as I could. I tried to stay away from a lot of fried food. It was a lot of different stuff that went into it.
“It was good to do that. I just feel a lot faster, a lot lighter. Not so much stress on my body.”
Mudiay is in a competition with second-year player Jamal Murray and veteran Jameer Nelson for the starting point guard position. Nelson, however, has been injured and not able to practice. In the meantime, both Mudiay and Murray have played well this week, Malone said.
Malone has alternated the two with the starting unit: Murray worked with the starting five on Wednesday night in five-on-five scrimmaging. Mudiay worked with the first team on Thursday morning.
“For me, it’s exciting to see a healthy competition for that spot,” Malone said. “They are both working their butts off. It’s going to be a really tough decision, but the great thing is we’ve got a lot of depth and a lot of talent.”
Mudiay is thriving in the midst of it all.
“It’s definitely a competition, and it’s fun to get out there and try to compete,” Mudiay said. “I love to compete. It doesn’t matter what type of situation it is. It’s challenged me. It’s definitely bringing a good side out of me.”
Notes: After Thursday morning’s practice, Nuggets coach Michael Malone highlighted good training camp starts for forwards Trey Lyles and Torrey Craig. Lyles, Malone said, has vaulted himself into the battle for reserve power forward. Malone likes how well Lyles is able to work together with reserve center Mason Plumlee. On Craig, who is on a two-way contract with the Nuggets, Malone said, “Make no mistake, Torrey Craig is an NBA player.” … Point guard Jameer Nelson (toe) did not practice on Thursday and will not play in the Nuggets’ preseason opener at Golden State. “Unfortunate that he hurt his toe in the first practice, but we’re not going to rush him back for Golden State,” Malone said. … Thursday was Juancho Hernangomez’s 22nd birthday. He was serenaded with a Stevie Wonder rendition of “Happy Birthday” at the end of practice.
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.