Our fourth player in Denver Stiffs draft coverage, chose to forgo his college eligibility and play overseas in China last season. Rated and projected by many as a top five pick, Emmanuel Mudiay.
Who is Emmanuel Mudiay?
Mudiay is 19 years old, born on March 5th in Kinshasa, DR Congo and played his high school ball in Texas. The Nuggets drafted another player from Kinshasa once, back in 1991 with the third overall pick by the name of Dikembe Mutombo (could this be a bit of foreshadowing!?!). Mudiay was one of the top recruits in the 2014 class, ranked second by Rivals and fifth by ESPN. He committed to Southern Methodist University (SMU) and Larry Brown over schools like Kentucky, Arizona, Baylor and Kansas. However, Mudiay ultimately chose to forgo college (in part to help out his family) and play in China for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
Here's some clips from a few interviews Mudiay did during his playing time in China. He seems like a very hard working, humble kid, listen for yourself:
Take a look at Mudiays' stats from Guangdong:
1.) Quickness/Size: At 6'5", 200 pounds with a 6'8.5" wingspan Mudiay is a very big point guard. He has very good quickness and a very good first step, which makes him lethal in the open floor. Mudiay seems to always put pressure on the defense once he gets the ball and thrives playing in transition. He explodes into the lane, attacks the rim at will and is very shifty, once he gets into the teeth of the defense. His quickness also allows him to score off the ball, which is one of his most undervalued traits, in my opinion.
Mudiay does a great job of using his frame and wingspan to grab rebounds, he might be the best rebounding guard in this class. Another benefit of his size, Mudiay can finish through contact at the rim and muscle over defenders, which he does often. He's an acrobatic finisher with great body control, does a great job of hanging in the air, bracing for contact, and can still finish with a dunk or layup. Mudiay might not be the same player, but his ability to finish at the rim reminds me of Derrick Rose. He also has great touch around the rim and can finish with either hand easily. His attacking nature in the open floor, would be a welcomed addition to a Nuggets team who has had success playing fast.
2.) Passing/Court Vision: Most people believe that Ohio St. guard D'Angelo Russell is the best passer in this draft, but Mudiay is right there with him. Mudiay has great court vision and is a willing passer, with great accuracy on his passes. He can thread the needle through multiple defenders and usually finds his teammates, when they are wide open. Mudiay has phenomenal velocity on his passes, he made some incredible full court passes over in China and is a deadly passer in the open floor.
3.) Playmaking Ability (especially in the NBA heavy pick-and-roll): Mudiay is a sound playmaker, who truly shines in pick and roll situations. He is effective as a dual threat in pick and rolls, whether as a distributor or a scorer. I watched multiple games of Guangdong recently and Mudiay always seemed to make a positive play out of the pick and roll. Whether he was knocking down a three, throwing alley-oops to former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian or getting to the rim for a lay-up, Mudiay always seemed to create out of pick and rolls. He has uncanny ability to read the defender in pick and rolls, adding to his value in those situations.
4.) Defensive Awareness: Mudiay is a very capable defender, it's the one area I believe he has a big head start on, over fellow top ranked guard D'Angelo Russell. He has the lateral quickness to stay in front of most guards and has a good motor on that end of the floor. Mudiay does a good job of getting into passing lanes, seems to more often than not give adequate help to his teammates and is good at helping on the weakside. Lastly, he has very quick hands, which allow him to get steals and swipe away the ball, from opposing guards. He's far from a polished product defensively, but Mudiay flashes the potential to be a very good two way player.
1.) Shooting: The biggest part of Mudiay's game I think he needs to work on, is his perimeter shooting ability. He shot a respectable 34% from the three point line overseas last season, but his mechanics are not very good. Mudiay has a hitch in his shot, that he'll need to get rid of and seems to mostly shoot with the ball directly in front of his face. He's far from a natural shooter and extremely streaky, I've watched games where he'd hit three or four shots in a row, and then follow up with some bad misses. Mudiay has solid touch from mid-range, but for him to be a special player at the next level, he'll need to fix his shooting woes.
2.) Decision Making: Like most young guards, Mudiay struggles with turnovers and forcing things, at times. Sometimes Mudiay just gets caught trying to do too much on the offense end and rushes his decision making. He forces his shot at times and telegraphs his passes too, but again it's mainly due to him just trying to do too much for his team.
3.) Free Throw Shooting: A very frustrating part of Mudiay's game, is his inconsistency as a free throw shooter. Mudiay shot a very sub-par 57% from the charity stripe for Guangdong this season and I even watched a game, where he air-balled a free throw. For the way he attacks and gets to the rim, Mudiay will be getting fouled a lot in the NBA and will need to be able to capitalize on those free opportunities for points. Last season in the NBA 25 point guards shot at least 80% from the free throw line or higher. Mudiay needs to shoot in that ball park, if he is to be an elite point guard in the NBA.
The most common player I've seen Mudiay compared to is John Wall of the Washington Wizards. Like Wall, Mudiay is a bigger point guard and is extremely lethal in the open floor, as well as the pick and roll. I believe he is more of a cross between Wall and former Nuggets great Lafayette "Fat" Lever, given his ability to rebound the ball better than Wall. Like both Wall and Lever, Mudiay struggles to shoot the ball and in order for him to be a elite player in the NBA, he'll need to remove the hitch that exists in his shot. Mudiay has a very high floor, even if he doesn't develop to his maximum potential, he should still be a good player in the league. If Mudiay is to be a "bust" or not live up to expectations, at worst he could be a solid starting PG and resemble a player like Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson.
How can the Nuggets get Mudiay?
In order to get Mudiay, Denver would have to hope their 15% chance of getting a top three pick hits. I currently have Mudiay ranked as the third best player in this class and a majority of people have had him going anywhere from no. 3-5 in the draft. The Nuggets could look to move Ty Lawson and another piece, to try and move up into the top three or four to select Mudiay. It's highly unlikely that Mudiay falls out of the top five, the Nuggets best bet will be to get lucky on May 19th and snag a top three pick.