Dzanan Musa
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

An overview on Brooklyn Nets forward Dzanan Musa and the aspects of his game he needs to improve on heading into the 2019-2020 season.

Dzanan Musa is entering his second season in the NBA with a lot of intrigue surrounding him. He mostly spent time with the Brooklyn Nets G-League affiliate the Long Island Nets last year and rarely saw the floor with the first team during his rookie season.

Musa played in his first Summer League this past July after missing his rookie year due to injury. He’s looking to earn his spot on the team as the Nets have upgraded with this past free agency splurge. He has a lot to prove and the recent additions, such as superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, will make his journey a bit harder. 

Musa’s first couple of games in the Summer League were a bit underwhelming. He shot terribly from the floor, turned the ball over a lot, and was not playing within the Nets offense. His best game was game No. 4 when they played against the Orlando Magic. Musa ultimately was inconsistent with his three previous games. However, against the Magic, he showcased his potential to be a very valuable player.

One question to his game dealt with whether or not he could finish at a high level. Against the Magic, Musa was able to drive well and finish within contact.

He was scoring with great confidence from all areas from the floor and setting up teammates nicely. The important things were that he seemed calm, played within the offense, and had that mounting confidence he always had.  He finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, along with shooting 8-of-15 overall from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point land.

The rest of the Summer League still wasn’t as consistent as he hoped, but there’s still a lot of positives from his performance.

When evaluating Musa’s young career, the one thing that stands out about Musa from the first day he was officially a Net is the undeniable confidence in himself. It’s something you noticed every game from the G-League to the Summer League; the way he walks, acts and plays.

It can be frustrating but from what we’ve seen from great players like Kobe Bryant, Irving, Damian Lillard, LeBron James, etc., is that being better as a player requires a great deal of confidence in yourself.

Musa has also shown the elite ability to score anywhere on the floor. He has good tools to become a great shooter,  break down defenders in transition, and can get into a great rhythm when he’s knocking down his shots.

Musa also has really good offensive instincts that can elevate him to the next level if he polishes his skills. His athleticism has shown to be very capable to NBA standards and his passing has also been fairly decent, as he has displayed some impressive court vision. Finishing is a work-in-progress. But, he does have the talent to get to the rim with his athletic ability and 6-foot-9 frame.

As pointed out, Musa’s talent hasn’t been completely refined. There’s a legitimate concern if he can take the next step of being the player he dreams of. With the positives of his confident demeanor, it also brings some limitations to improvement. He still tends to play within his style and it’s something that can cause concern if he wants to fit the motion offense of the Nets. Musa has additionally shown he can be a good teammate and get players involved, but he still tends to make some selfish decisions.

For example, he’s sometimes guilty of over-shooting from deep even when his shot is off. If he can get better from three, that might diminish the problem, but his shot selection can be really ill-advised.

A lot of games in the Summer League he would shoot at unnecessary times. This led to many defensive lapses and again ruin the team’s offensive rhythm. It’s just a question if he can learn to be a bit more unselfish and balance his confidence.

Defensively, Musa might not ever be an elite defender or even above-average defender. But, there’s potential for him to be a very respectable defender.

He’s decently athletic though not world-class in a sense, so his defensive capabilities will be limited from this. Even then, Musa has been willing to compete at the defensive end. For example, during a game this past Summer League against the Wizards, he made a clutch defensive stop to seal the game, blocking a potential game-tying three. It was a good sign, but he still needs to be able to show that against better competition and prove more with his opportunities.

Lastly, another concern with Musa is his shooting. His form still needs some tweaking and still needs to improve knocking down threes at a consistent rate. He has proven to be a capable shooter but still shoots below 35% from deep.

He also isn’t much of a catch and shoot player, which is something he should learn to master if he wants to fit the Nets offense. Improvement with his off-ball skills would be a huge plus if he wants to have a role on this team.

To sum up Musa’s overall journey from Summer of 2018 to August of 2019, he’s far from a finished product. He isn’t a perfect young talent and the many concerns of his game can hurt him grow. Still, his talent is something that has to be respected from his past accomplishments to what’s seen on the court. 

Musa is determined to get better and from what we have seen from him in interviews, he seems like a young man hungry for success. From a recent quote from an article on NetsDaily:

“I’m ready,” Musa said. “I’m ready. Believe me, I’m ready. This time, when I realized that I have a chance to play in the NBA, I think that I’ve waited for that for 20 years and that I’m ready.”

It’ll be interesting what the future holds for Musa as preseason comes in about two months. There are those obvious question marks about him, but also a mystery about who Musa can be.

Are his interesting journey and confident demeanor enough to take him far in the NBA? Musa will be an interesting player to watch this upcoming year. It’ll be fun to see how he can perform with the pending challenges.