Emmanuel Mudiay, 19, originally signed to play for Larry Brown at SMU before backing out to play professionally overseas. One of the top guards in his high school class, Mudiay ended up making over $1 million playing in China during his age-18 season instead of spending it playing for a scholarship in the U.S.
There’s always uncertainty over how a player, especially a teenager, will adjust to life in another country, but Mudiay’s time in China proved encouraging. While an ankle injury forced him out for significant time during the season — and led to his team signing former NBA veteran Will Bynum — the general reaction from the draft community on Mudiay’s time in China has been largely been positive.
The 6-foot-5 Mudiay is described as a big, athletic combo guard with excellent size for the PG position. He’s a great athlete with speed and explosive leaping ability. He’s considered an elite player in the open court, perfect for Denver’s fast-paced play. For good measure, he’s described as a good rebounder as well.
He was rated by ESPN.com as the second-best point guard in the draft and the fifth-overall draft prospect. According to draft experts, Mudiay needs to improve his ball possession in pressure situations and his perimeter shooting. Head coach Michael Malone believes the whole team needs to improve in those areas. Prior to the Nuggets pick, Karl-Anthony Towns went first overall to Minnesota. D’Angelo Russell went to Los Angeles with the second, followed by Jhalil Okafor to Philadelphia. The New York Knicks, widely speculated to move out of the fourth pick, held pat and selected Kristaps Porzingas – much to the dismay of Knicks fans. Orlando took Mario Hezonja, who was widely speculated as a top choice for Denver. Willie Cauley-Stein, who worked out with the Nuggets went to Sacramento at six.
Mudiay played with another Nuggets draft pick, Nikola Jokic, during a workout in 2014. Jokic is expected to sign with the Nuggets in advance of the summer league. Draftexpress.com described the workout, saying:
Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic were exceptional during the competitive portion of practice, guiding their team to a 44-41 victory. Mudiay, who had a couple of great moments running the pick and roll yesterday, did most of his damage in transition today, but continued to flash a knack for making plays in the two man game in the half court. Mudiay’s decision making and consistency have left something to be desired at times throughout his career, but this was a very steady performance for the SMU commit, as he made sound decisions with the ball for the most part…
There was an immense amount of chatter leading up to the draft about whether or not the Nuggets would take a point guard, with things going south with Ty Lawson late in the year last season. That speculation became reality on Thursday night with the selection of Mudiay. What holds next for Lawson has yet to play out.
I would think that Stanley Johnson would’ve been a better pick for Denver. You have to think , “What are they doing in the Nuggets front office?” Now, they need a proven wing defender than can guard on the wing as well as the post. Let’s see who they get in the second round.