Have you heard the Grantland podcast with Ryen Russillo and Chad Ford? They give their reactions to how the 2015 NBA draft played out at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The following is a portion of their podcast where they started talking about the Denver Nuggets and Emmanuel Mudiay. I highly recommend listening to the entire podcast, or at least the portion on Mudiay, starting at the 19:11 mark.
The conversation between ESPN's Chad Ford and Grantland's Ryen Russillo.
Paraphrasing Russillo: He quickly mentions the Nuggets were looking to make trades, and asks about what Ford thinks of the selection of Mudiay.
Chad Ford: I loved it. Denver was trying to get another pick in the middle of the first round to get Cameron Payne or Tyus Jones because they know this Ty Lawson things gotta end. Ty Lawson, somehow someway will not be on the Nuggets next season, I predict. And they knew that they wanted to get a point guard, and reset their culture. And a lot of it's a cultural reason for doing so with Ty Lawson.
And they were trying to move up in the draft to see if they could get Mudiay, or D'Angelo Russell. They really wanted one of those outcomes. To have Mudiay fall in your lap... And by the way, I know you're not sold, but I'm still trying to figure out... Give me the argument, why not Emmanuel Mudiay? Everyone in the world agreed last year, this is the best guard in his class, the best guard in this draft. I don't think he regressed in China, in fact he got stronger, and I think his jump-shot got better. And he got a dose of reality, from all these ex-NBA vets that had fallen out of the league, that told him... I talked with Mudiay about this, that told him the stories about, 'Man you gotta go in the league. This is what you gotta do: You can't goof around, you can't mess around, it's serious, you gotta work hard.'
He had all those vets telling him that, and he got to see what happens to you if you don't do that. You end up in China! And he came back with this mentality, 'This is a job.' I heard Mudiay say this over-and-over, 'This is a job, and I have to work my butt off to get this job. I start at zero.' And he has a mentality that I wish every draft prospect had coming in. I think he's going to be an absolute stud. I think day one, he has the most talent of anybody on that Nuggets roster.
Ryen Russillo: Over Jusuf?
Ford: Over Jusuf, absolutely.
Russillo: I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I just know we all like to talk about Jusuf Nurkic. I've not seen Mudiay as much as you have, ok. I saw a lot of the China stuff, and it's such a terrible league...
Ford: It is.
Russillo: So I had a hard time with that. I'm not part of the high school roundup stuff, so I'm willing to defer to more of the guys who watched him through high school. And they do seem to like him more than me. I think his shot is really messed up. ... I watched him in a couple of the [high school] All Star games, physically he stands out. You immediately see him and go, 'Ok, who's that guy?' I don't have a problem with the pick, I like what you just said there.
Paraphrasing Russillo: Ryen talks about China and how guys like Brandon Jennings were being vilified for skipping college to play professionally overseas (Italy in Jennings' case), before making the jump to the NBA. Russillo liked that Mudiay didn't seem to get vilified, and how we are progressing at letting these kids take different paths.
Ford: Though Mudiay did get a little vilified, because had he played at SMU I think he would have been the number two pick in the draft, personally.
This is pretty good stuff to hear, but it also makes you wonder what the Nuggets might have been trying to do on draft day. You have to wonder if they were trying to trade up for Mudiay or Russell without giving up the 7th pick, and thinking or hoping that Mario Hezonja or another wing would be available when their actual pick came. Same goes for looking at Payne and Jones (and Jerian Grant, I think) - get a wing with the 7th pick, and then try go get a point guard later in the draft. And once Denver got Mudiay, word was they were trying to trade back to get, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, Justise Winslow.
Now one has to wonder if the Nuggets will look to move Lawson for a shooting guard, a piece the Nuggets were unable to come away with in the draft. Anyhow, awesome stuff from Ford on Mudiay.