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Deeper Dive: Where Will Emmanuel Mudiay End Up?

by Photo of Tommy Dee

Do this year’s lottery teams have a solid grasp on perhaps the draft’s most talented guard?

Deeper Dive: Where Will Emmanuel Mudiay End Up?

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For months Emmanuel Mudiay has easily been recognized as the 2015 NBA Draft's official International Man of Mystery. A year ago, he was the the nation's top point guard prospect on his way to go learn great guard play from Larry Brown at Southern Methodist University, but then decided to head to China for a year before putting his name in this year's draft. In looking at the top of the draft, it's clear there are five teams in need of an impact player at the guard position starting with the Lakers at two. It's possible the Minnesota Timberwolves may be looking to upgrade at the point guard spot and may entertain trading down, but as it stands right now they'd almost certainly take either Jahlil Okafor or Karl Anthony-Towns with the top spot. The Lakers would love to land either big, but also have been rumored to be enamored with Mudiay and D'Angelo Russell with the second pick. You can bet the Sixers will take best available at three and may be open to the idea of Mudiay (Sports Illustrated, June 1, 2015), but have been rumored to be in love with Russell for quite some time (Pompey,philly.com,4/27/2015) and are reportedly enamored with Kristaps Porzingis currently.    

Now as the draft quickly approaches, has there been any clarity? It wouldn't seem so. During the year it was difficult to gather much fresh information on Mudiay and over the past month or so it hasn't been much easier. One of the key evaluations, to me, came from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report who packaged Mudiay's skill set as a John Wall/Jrue Holiday combination (Wasserman,Bleacher Report, 12/14/14.)

"In terms of the scouting report, Mudiay is lightning-quick and awfully shifty off the dribble, where he can change direction and create scoring opportunities at will, whether it's for himself or teammates. 

He has a strong feel for the game, both as a scorer and facilitator. At 6'5", 200 pounds, he reminds me of a mix between John Wall and Jrue Holiday—big, skilled playmakers who can take over in the half court and play above the rim in the open floor. "  

That's a visual that has stuck with me for some time when watching video clips and gathering data on Mudiay. I spoke with the NBA's top scouting guru, and friend, Ryan Blake about Mudiay as it related to what system he could excel in.

"Mudiay is an attacking player with a lot of skills both offensively and defensively," Blake said. "He is highly skilled with versatility so, he will have to learn to become less riskier passer, proven distributor and quarterback. He can play in the uptempo game but he must prove he can master any half court setting style and schemes." 

As far as the question of can he be the franchise quarterback teams, particularly the New York Knicks who sit fourth, are looking for Blake feels Mudiay has the talent, but it's on the team to help his development. 

"Look, all teams want a franchise player in the lottery, but it becomes very rare to find those now a days. A team would definitely love a franchise player, but the question becomes will that impact player be one that can develop quickly and continuously. His body of work in China was too small to make a bold prediction, but Summer League will help some of that development and he will be thrust in the running a team in that setting."  

Personally, there are so many things to like about Mudiay on both sides of the ball and the Wall/Holiday comparison is well taken. His size and pass-first mentality is a combination anyone who plays with him would absolutely love. He also gets the ball out quickly in transition and shares with bigs and wings who run with him. That is the key to playing with more pace. It's not just the guard pushing the ball it's, essentially, does that guard invite teammates to run hard and quickly with them?

What I love most about him is how nimble his feet are, specifically in hesitation as displays here. The best guards bounce on the floor as they are penetrating then explode to the basket. This ability, which all great running backs possess, allows for cutting and quick changes of pace. Very hard to find a guard as big as Mudiay is with such wonderful footwork. While I've been critical of how he shoots the ball

In the end it comes down to what teams have found out while doing their homework. Again, the Lakers are taking a very serious look at him and have reportedly brought him back for a second workout. I think they'll satisfy their need for a guard by taking Russell two. Barring any trades, I believe he'll go at 6 to Sacramento, which would be a nice place to start his career. Granted, I would think it would be hard for the Kings to pass on Willie Cauley-Stein, but I just don't see Mudiay sliding past 6. Like Blake said as with all young and talented players he'll need the right teammates and help from the franchise surrounding him if he hopes to become a franchise quarterback. He has all the tools and where he ends up still seems to be bar far the most fascinating question of this year's draft. 


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