DraftExpress | ESPN | NBADraft | Stats | Wiki
Point Guard | 6’5 | 200 | Guangdong
Projected: Top 5
Best Case: John Wall
Most Likely: Jrue Holiday
Worst Case: Tony Wroten
Emmanuel Mudiay might be the best athlete in this draft. I think it’s between him and Cauley-Stein but in either case, you’re getting a specimen who can consistently change a game with their physical gifts. Mudiay took the Brandon Jennings route, skipping college to play overseas. Instead of heading to Europe though, he took his talents to the CBA, playing for the Guangdong Tigers with Will Bynum and Yi Jianlian. Translating numbers from China is a challenge for the analytics crowd, as that league is home to many failed or retired NBA players but each team is only allowed two such imported players, so the rest of the league is made up of Chinese nationals. This mix of relatively strong and abjectly poor competition makes it tough to know how much weight to give numbers racked up in the CBA.
Keeping that in mind, Mudiay did put up relatively impressive numbers while in China, averaging 18 points, 6 boards, 6 assists and 1.5 steals, good for a 19 PER. His strengths lie in his raw speed and court vision – he is a terror in transition both as a coast-to-coast threat and hitting shooters without breaking stride. The same qualities allow him to thrive attacking defenders one-on-one or in the pick and roll, as Mudiay has no hesitancy driving to the basket and will use his 6’5, 200lb frame to finish through contact and draw fouls. That frame and his speed laterally give him a chance to be an elite defensive point guard if he puts his mind to it. His natural competitiveness should help in that regard, as every indication I’ve seen is that Mudiay is a maniacal worker. When you add all of that together you have some pretty great clay to build a franchise point guard with.
There are of course some issues to be dealt with in Mudiay’s game. Like many hyper athletic prospects his jumpshot is somewhat broken, which is not particularly surprising given how easily he has dominated driving and dishing in high school and overseas. His 34% mark from deep in China isn’t awful, but his 57% success rate at the charity stripe certainly is (almost identical to what Tony Wroten shot at Washington). We’ve seen what limitations from the free throw line can do to a player and as a guy who should thrive driving the lane it’d be a shame to see him avoiding contact in Rondo like fashion. Mudiay also suffers from trying to force the issue when given primary ball-handling responsibilities. This manifests itself in bad shots, ball-handling turnovers and high risk passes. Turnovers are certainly something that can improve with practice and study, but many players of a similar type (Wall, Westbrook, Wroten, Rose) continue to be high turnover players even well into their NBA career – I feel like it will be a similar story for Mudiay. Nevertheless, an NBA coaching staff will see most of these weaknesses as fixable, so I don’t see any reason for Mudiay to slide down draft boards other than a fear of the unknown.
Mudiay is big enough to guard shooting guards, so a pairing with Dame would be interesting for the Blazers. At this point though, you’re probably having to give up Dame to get high enough in the draft. That’s a total non-starter and for that reason, I won’t bother looking at the benefits or drawbacks of plugging prospects into the Blazers’ system from here on out. Teams looking at Mudiay certainly shouldn’t be looking to give up their pick in any case, as his blend of point guard skills and attacking mentality give him real star potential. He’s just the type of risk teams bad enough to get a top five pick should be looking to take.