Emmanuel Mudiay known by some as DR. Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo), is only 19 years old – but he has shown flashes in the NBA Summer League of what everyone in Denver has been excited about since he was drafted 7th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Mudiay chose to skip college after verbally committing to SMU, to help his families financial situation by signing a 1 year $1.2 million deal with the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China. Mudiay suffered an ankle injury which sidelined him for a significant amount of time while in China which caused many team executives and scouts to cancel their plans to watch the young point guard perform. After declaring for the draft Mudiay was thought as a top-3 maybe even first overall talent but scouts were skeptical as they were not able to see him play as much as they saw the college guys – which triggered his drop in the draft. The Nuggets who held the 7th pick were reportedly looking to move up in the draft to nab the young guard after reports that their floor leader and most valuable player Ty Lawson wanted out of Denver. With some luck and a series of absurd events – such as the Lakers taking the lefty guard D’Angelo Russell with the 2nd pick, the Sixers taking yet another big man in Jahlil Okafor with the 3rd and the Knicks taking the biggest question mark of the draft Kristaps Porzingis with the 4th pick – Emmanuel Mudiay basically fell onto the Nuggets lap. After drafting Mudiay executives around the league were all but assured Lawson had already played his last game as a Nugget and it became apparent after the Nuggets dealt Lawson to the Houston Rockets.
Both the Nuggets and Emmanuel Mudiay were ecstatic that the floor general landed in Denver.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) July 18, 2015
Mudiay caught the attention of his teammates and coaches during his practices for the Nuggets summer league team. He has a strong frame at 6″5 and 190 lbs and it will allow him to throw off-balance cross court passes. He distorts his body after driving in angles that not any player can do. Mudiay has been compared to John Wall and Russell Westbrook, and although he doesn’t have the quickness Wall has or the shot making ability displayed by Westbrook – Mudiay has the tools and work ethic to attain those attributes. In this video by our good friend Joel Rush over at BSN Denver, Mudiay’s passing skills and feel for the game are in full effect –
Mudiay finished the game with a double-double netting 19 points and 10 assists, and he could have ended with more assists if his teammates were more able to knock down the open shots he was getting them. If Emmanuel Mudiay can work on his jump shot and become a consistent threat from downtown and or midrange, it will open up more passing angles and lanes for the young guard to exploit.
The Nuggets haven’t had a rookie to look forward to with all-star or superstar aspirations since they drafted Carmelo Anthony back in 2003. If Mudiay can emulate the success ‘Melo had in his rookie season, there is no doubt Mudiay would be crowned Rookie of the Year. It will be a struggle at times for the rookie as he struggles turning the ball over and often tries to do too much on the court, but Mudiay has shown a composure that most young guards do not show early on in their careers. Mudiay posses the ability to stay under control while being double teamed and holds the ball long enough for his teammates to get open before ultimately passing the ball to the open player. He also embraces adversity and his role as a leader both on and off the court.
Emmanuel Mudiay can expect to see many minutes and the Nuggets are willing to stick with him through the rough patches, but what should we expect from Mudiay in his first season with the organization?