NBA PM: Mudiay May Prove to Be a Steal

Emmanuel Mudiay to the Nuggets at No. 7 may go down as the steal of the 2015 NBA Draft.

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban discusses the DeAndre Jordan drama, Dallas’ other offseason moves and much more in this extremely candid interview.

Mudiay May Prove to Be a Steal

Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t get selected as high as his camp expected in the 2015 NBA Draft, falling past potential landing spots such as the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2, Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3, New York Knicks at No.4 and Sacramento Kings at No. 6.

However, even though it took a bit longer for him to hear his name called on June 25, going No. 7 to the Denver Nuggets could be great for him in the long run.

If goes as planned, Mudiay will become a franchise cornerstone for Denver and emerge as their starting point guard of the future. It may even happen sooner than later, especially since this offseason rumors have circulated that Ty Lawson is unhappy and wants a trade.

The 19-year-old also fits with Denver’s style of play since the Nuggets will run an up-tempo offense in which Mudiay should thrive. Last year, the Nuggets had the third-highest pace in the NBA (averaging 98.7 possessions per game) behind only the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, and general manager Tim Connelly has said that the team will continue to push the pace under new head coach Mike Malone. Mudiay is excellent in transition thanks to his athleticism, explosiveness, ball-handling, quick decision-making and ability to finish at the rim, so he seems like a perfect fit for Denver.

“We’re definitely excited that I got picked to Denver,” Mudiay said. “I’m glad to be a part of Denver’s organization. I definitely thank God for the opportunity.”

From the moment he was selected, Mudiay made his goal clear.

“I just want to win as many championships as I can win,” he said. “The league is about winning. When you win, everything else takes care of itself. What I can bring is just my competitive spirit and try to bring it on both sides of the floor – defense and offense.

“Denver has never won a championship and, me getting drafted by Denver, that’s the main focus on my part. I don’t want to play basketball just to play basketball. I want to win championships eventually.”

The young floor general has impressed through two games at the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, averaging 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds and 1.5 steals while leading Denver to a 2-0 start.

Mudiay has been projected to be a star since high school, and it’s easy to see why with his physical tools, athleticism, skill set and work ethic. Some mock drafts even projected him as the top overall pick when he was younger.

However, rather than playing college in America, Mudiay went overseas and played a year in China right after high school, which may have hurt his draft stock a bit. However, he believes that experience with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association really prepared him for the NBA.

“You’re out there playing with grown men,” Mudiay said of his time overseas. “You’re out there playing with a [shorter] shot clock and basically NBA rules. That’s really what it is. The three‑second rule, probably, is the only thing that’s different about China, the CBA. But as far as playing with grown men, the physicality over there is ridiculous; it’s like playoff basketball. That’s one thing that really helped me. I feel like I do have an advantage coming in, having played a professional type of basketball already.”

He also learned from a number of players who had previously been in the NBA and then found themselves overseas. One such veteran was Will Bynum, who was Mudiay’s injury replacement with the Southern Tigers and emerged as his mentor.

“He helped me a lot; he told me how to carry yourself when things aren’t going your way and when things are going your way,” Mudiay said of Bynum. “It’s not an easy league. Things go up and down, but you’ve just got to keep a positive mindset, keep working hard and just show a great attitude. That’s really what he taught me.”

In other words, Mudiay learned what it means to be a professional. His work ethic continued to impress during the pre-draft process. Fellow draft prospects who were training with Mudiay in Los Angeles said that the teenager would refuse to go out, preferring instead to get in extra workouts or stay in to watch the NBA playoffs or pull up highlight reels on YouTube.

One aspect of his game that he hopes to improve is his shot. He has shot just 40 percent from the field during Summer League play, and he knows it’s something he needs to keep working on.

“I probably just [need to] be more of a consistent shooter,” Mudiay said. “I’m confident in my shot, but it wouldn’t hurt [to improve]. Anybody would want to shoot like Steph Curry. So I’ll just keep working on my shot, keep being consistent.”

Mudiay has already started to turn heads and, if he reaches his full potential, he could end up being a huge steal for the Nuggets.

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