Emmanuel Mudiay came into the NBA with great athleticism and higher expectations. The Denver Nuggets made him a top-10 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but his career flat-lined in the Rocky Mountains.
Now, with the New York Knicks, he receives the rare second chance to prove himself once again.
With the Knicks falling out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, head coach Jeff Hornacek is committed to giving the young guys a look. All indications are that Mudiay will be in the starting lineup when the team returns from the All-Star break.
“Definitely means something to me,” Mudiay told reporters at practice on Wednesday. “I’m not going to take it for granted. I came in as a lottery pick, so I was kind of handed the spot and stuff like that. So, the fact that I’m in that position again it’s a blessing. Thank God for it. I just have to take full advantage.”
Mudiay spent 2.5 seasons with the Nuggets before the Knicks acquired him in a three-team trade involving the Dallas Mavericks. For the Knicks, they added a buy-low candidate whose career they hope to jumpstart.
In his rookie season in Denver, Mudiay showed promise. He started 66 games and averaged 12.8 PPG. It has been downhill since, as the team drafted Jamal Murray and subsequently moved Mudiay out of the rotation.
Even though the last two months might not mean much to the Knicks in the standings, they mean a lot for Mudiay–as he could emerge as a core piece alongside Kristaps Porzingis. In fact, the Knicks were rumored to be interested in Mudiay at No. 4 before taking Porzingis in 2015. Mudiay ultimately went No. 7 to the Nuggets.
Mudiay is averaging 9.7 PPG and 5 APG in three contests with the Knicks.
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