The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets came into their head-to-head matchup at the Staples Center on Tuesday night with an interesting storyline surrounding rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.
The Lakers passed on drafting Mudiay back in June in favor of Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell. Head coach Byron Scott claimed the reasoning behind the decision was the team’s belief that Mudiay wasn’t a true point guard.
Mudiay used Coach Scott’s comments as motivation heading into Tuesday’s game. The 19-year-old finished with a double-double while helping lead the Nuggets to a win on the road and publicly thanked Scott after the game for the added motivation, via Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.
Emmanuel Mudiay, after collecting 10 assists tonight: "Thank you Byron Scott for saying I'm not a point guard." #Nuggets
— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) November 4, 2015
Mudiay struggled in the first half against the Lakers going 0-for-5 from the field and committing three turnovers. The rookie dished out four assists and scored two points, but his performance left something to be desired.
The seventh overall pick rebounded in the second half adding 10 points and six assists to his total. Mudiay recorded the first double-double of his NBA career finishing with 12 points and 10 assists.
As for Russell, the former Buckeye scored seven points and dished out six assists in 20 minutes on the floor. The turnovers between the two rookie point guards was the only glaring stat in terms of Russell coming out on top. Mudiay ended up with six, which is his season average (6.3) while Russell only turned the ball over once.
It is way too early to compare rookies head-to-head with only four games in the books, but the comparisons will continue regardless. Russell and company will have to wait until Dec. 22 for a rematch between the two teams in Denver.