D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay were the first two point guards off the board in the 2015 NBA draft, ensuring that the they’d be compared endlessly regardless of how their respective careers turned out.
However, the first shots in their “rivalry” actually weren’t fired by either player. As it would happen, former Lakers head coach Byron Scott kicked things off before the first matchup between the two rookies by criticizing Mudiay to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News.
"I didn't think he was a true point guard," Scott said back in November. "I didn't think he was a guy who made great decisions when we saw him and had him here. I thought that was something he would have to learn to do to run that position."
Well, Mudiay came through with one of the better efforts of his early rookie season, dropping 12 points and 10 assists in the Nuggets' 120-109 win over the Lakers one day after Scott’s comments, but he saved his real response for after the game:
Emmanuel Mudiay, after collecting 10 assists tonight: "Thank you Byron Scott for saying I'm not a point guard." #Nuggets— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) November 4, 2015
A lot of you guys in your draft class in this camp with you. Of course, D’Angelo Russell, you guys are always going to be paired together no matter what happens…
…How does it feel to go up against him and also go into camp with him in the same situation?
I mean, it’s fun. You kind of got to see that in the first year how we went at it, which was fun. We both had that chip on our shoulder that we wanted to prove who’s what. In high school, I was ‘this and that’, I went out of the country, he stayed and made some noise and became one of the household names over at Ohio State. We got drafted… But I think the main thing is everyone in our class, you can just tell, it should make us proud that everybody’s here. Just because we put in so much work and we came of the same class.
It’s not yet clear whether Mudiay or Russell will end up the better player, but their rivalry promises to be as fun for us to watch as it is for them to compete in.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.