Nuggets select Emmanuel Mudiay with No. 7 pick in 2015 NBA draft

The Denver Nuggets selected point guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the No. 7 pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
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The Denver Nuggets selected point guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's NBA draft.

Mudiay, 6'5" and 19 years old, played last season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. He was the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2014 and committed to play for SMU before deciding to go overseas. 

Mudiay averaged 18 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game last season in China. He shot 30% from three-point range and 58.1% from the free-throw line. 

MANNIX: Mudiay's long journey from the Congo to the NBA

Mannix's analysis: Mudiay is a phenomenal prospect. He’s big, athletic and was compared by Larry Brown—the point guard whisperer who recruited Mudiay hard out of high school—to John Wall. He had a forgettable season in China, largely due to injury, but he has explosive offensive potential. It remains to be seen how Denver wants to play; the Nuggets have a roster built for up-tempo and a coach, Mike Malone, known for a more methodical style. And this clearly means Ty Lawson’s days in Denver are numbered. But getting Mudiay here is a nice pick for GM Tim Connelly. 

Grade: B+

Strengths: Mudiay fits the prototype of the modern NBA point guard with his ability to create shots for his teammates as well as himself. He excels off the dribble and has a killer crossover. When he gets into the lane, he finishes at the rim. In the paint, he can back down smaller guards and exploit mismatches. His size and length are ideal for a lead guard, with his 6’8” wingspan complementing his lean frame. That wingspan can make him a menace on defense, where he has yet to show his full potential. He has good vision and feel on the defensive end, and he could quickly improve on that end of the floor in the NBA. His 6.5 rebounds per game in China showed his vision and awareness in grabbing long boards. He is very comfortable operating in the pick-and-roll, which is the heart of most NBA offenses.

Weaknesses: Jump shooting will be his biggest concern in the NBA. According to DraftExpress, he shot 30% from three-point range overseas. He has a tendency to take off-balance shots from bad angles, and that is the cause of some of his struggles, but it doesn’t explain his poor free-throw shooting (58.1%). His mechanics can be suspect, particularly his release. Although he creates lots of good looks for teammates, he is also prone to errant passes and turnovers. He suffered an ankle injury in China, and his health and physical shape are still minor concerns heading into the draft.

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- Dan Gartland