With another injury-plagued campaign underway, the Lakers current record suggests that they will earn a top five pick and add another key piece for the future. Although Julius Randle has yet to make an impact on the Lakers, it’s time to start looking ahead to the upcoming draft and scout the players that may come to join him. Today we’ll be taking a look at Emmanuel Mudiay.
Following the footsteps of one-and-done pioneer Brandon Jennings, Mudiay spurned the opportunity to play college basketball with Larry Brown at SMU to head overseas with the Guangdong Southern. Born in the Congo, Mudiay grew up in Texas and blossomed into a McDonald’s All-American at Prime Prep Academy in Dallas. His decision to pass on college to play in China was a financial one that earned him a $1.2M salary and the ability to support his family.
Mudiay’s draft stock is a story of "out of sight, out of mind" at the moment. While D’Angelo Russell has been tearing up the NCAA and building hype at Ohio State, Emmanuel’s season just ended in China and he missed a large stretch with an ankle injury. While both prospects have tantalizing potential, one can argue that Mudiay’s ceiling is limitless.
Physically, he’s an incredible prospect at the pro level and will be an imposing backcourt player. Mudiay stands at 6’5" and 200 pounds with a 6’9" wingspan. In addition, he brings explosive athleticism and speed that will be elite the moment he steps on an NBA court. With his length and speed, he will be able to grow into an accomplished defender and rebounder for his position.
Offensively, Mudiay is a mixed bag at the moment, but oozes with potential. He is already a terror in the open court and is constantly in attack mode. He has a great first step and can use his size to create separation to get his own shot. When driving to the rack, he is able to finish through contact, a skill that has drawn early comparisons to D-Rose. Mudiay is a willing passer in the pick and roll and already adept at setting up his teammates with a drive and kick offense.
These are all good things, but he’s still very raw offensively. As a ballhandler, he is turnover prone and often gets stuck in the air before trying to make a decision. This was one part of his game that rubbed his coach in China the wrong way. His jumpshot is also a work in progress. Although his stroke isn’t perfect, it looks solid and should be very fixable in the NBA. Right now, though? It’s inconsistent and paired with a questionable shot selection, leading to 30% 3PT this year in China.
Before going down with an ankle injury, Mudiay was putting up a respectable season against pros in Chinas – averaging 17.7 PPG on 50% FG and 6 boards / assists. He came back from injury to try and save his team from elimination against Starbury and the Beijing Ducks, although they ultimately lost in 4 games. The word on the street is that Mudiay has been a real professional and demonstrated a solid work ethic in China. After the NCAA season winds down, he’ll work with PG whisperer Larry Brown leading up to the draft.
Although draft stock always fluctuates over the course of the season, there’s no questioning Mudiay is a top 5 pick. Scouts have been enamored with his upside since he came into the national spotlight. If the Lakers have the opportunity to draft Mudiay in the 2015 draft, they should be thrilled.