Emmanuel Mudiay getting traded to the Knicks might have just saved his career if you ask former Knicks F Jared Jeffries.
Jeffries, who was the Nuggets' former scouting director that drafted Mudiay back in 2015, saw Mudiay deteriorating in Denver as Jamal Murray -- the team's first-rounder in 2016 -- took centerstage.
Mudiay went from starting 66 of 68 games his rookie season to averaging just 17.9 minutes in 42 games without a start this season. The Knicks viewed Mudiay as a player with tons of potential, but in the wrong situation and made a move.
"I know how tough it was for [general manager] Tim [Connelly] and [owner] Josh [Kroenke] to let him go," Jeffries told The Post's Marc Berman. "They did the right thing for the kid. They could've held on to him to the point of no return and ruin his career. It's really good the Knicks trusted what they believed at draft time and got him for a discount. If he's on top of the world and playing great, you're not going to get him for that."
The most common kick on Mudiay's young career is his 37.5 career shooting percentage. Mudiay is regarded as a bad-shooting guard, but Jeffries thinks that notion is skewed.
"He's not a bad shooter -- he's a bad finisher," Jeffries said. "That's why his field-goal percentage is a big focus. If he becomes a better finisher -- something very possible -- his whole game transforms. Take out his layups, he's not a bad shooter. If he'd finish at a 60 percent clip, he'd be 48 [percent] from the floor."
Layups even appear to be a problem for Mudiay, who averages 45 percent on those shots. That total is fourth-worst in the league this season, but again, Jeffries believes it's easily fixable.
"He's big and gets to the rim," he said. "But the best finishers in the league -- Tony Parker, Kyrie Irving -- are over-the-top finishers with a softness to their shot and they shoot with their hands under the ball. Scoop, rolling layups are difficult and easier to get altered or blocked. Maybe he didn't work at it enough at a young age because he didn't go to college."
Because he didn't go to college, Mudiay was a big risk coming out of the 2015 draft. Jeffries said the Nuggets believed he would go higher in the draft, but with he Knicks set on Kristaps Porzingis, Denver was "doing extra work that day on him."Mudiay declined to work out for the Nuggets before the draft, and it may have been an omen for Denver when they did draft him seventh overall.
Now, they give him the fresh start he wants.
"He's at the point now, he's got to turn the corner and be more confident,'' Jeffries said. "If he can do that, he'll transform his game. Murray is 20 and if he keeps playing this way, Denver is going in that direction and there's not much for Mudiay.
"It's a fresh start, a new beginning and the kid attacks that stuff with aggression when he has focus. There's only 48 minutes in a game and it's hard to just play Mudiay 13 (minutes) in his third year and expect him to find the rhythm to improve. He's not a rookie or second-year player."
Mudiay is set to make his Knicks debut this Sunday against the Pacers.