Cliff Alexander, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Karl Towns, Kelly Oubre, Myles Turner, Stanley Johnson, Trey Lyles, Tyus Jones
After writing my way too early 2015 preview, I received some commentary on my exclusion of Emmanuel Mudiay. I didn’t realize that he was being hyped as the 2nd most likely #1 overall pick, but Chad Ford says his Hoop Summit performance has him in the equation breathing down Okafor’s neck. Fortunately the Hoop Summit can be watched on youtube, so I decided to pick apart his performance and assess the extent to which I agree with the hype.
Mudiay played for the World Team and was given the keys to the offense as their only player cut out for heavy ball handling duties. It was clear that his objective was to push tempo in transition, where he is at his best. Also USA Team did quite a bit of pressing and trapping which opened up lanes for Mudiay to attack when the World Team beat the press. He didn’t do much attacking of a set defense, so this was the optimal type of game for him to thrive. Note that this is not completely unabridged, based on box score I’m missing a couple of missed 3’s and maybe a turnove. Then again maybe the box score is wrong.
3:32 Beats Johnson off the dribble and kicks it out to create an open 3 which is missed.
7:08 Attacks in transition, gets cut off by Oubre, passes to Inglis
7:50 Rises up for shot, changes mind at last second and throws ball away for turnover
22:35 Gets dual pressure from Johnson + Oubre in backcourt, almost turns it over, eventually world team gets called for 8 seconds.
24:47 In transition interior pass gets tipped away by Tyus Jones for turnover
27:50 Attacks on PnR, Oubre pokes away pass for turnover
34:05 World team beats press, Mudiay attacks and makes good decision to pass to Birsen for easy layup.
39:07 Beats press, kicks it out for missed open 3 attempt
39:48 Inbounds to Brandone Francis who makes long 2.
1:22:12 Threads the needle to Towns on the pick and roll, but the bounce pass is knee level and Towns can’t catch it.
1:24:42 Nicely passes the ball off to Lyles in transition who gets rejected by Oubre
1:27:54 Passes to a cutting Lyles who lays it in
3:55 Misses transition layup
10:54 Attacks in transition, gets cut off by Oubre on perimeter
23:22 Dunks on transition breakaway
31:03 Attacks and draws FT’s in transition
33:09 After world team beats press, Mudiay catches ball with open lane and explodes to hoop for made layup.
51:29 Beats Johnson in transition for made layup
54:06 Gets to hoop in transition, gets blocked from behind by Cliff Alexander
1:20:38 Rips strong rebound, pushes the ball in transition, dishes the ball to Murray, gets it back and misses layup.
1:22:54 Makes layup in transition
1:28:25 Draws FT’s in transition
19:39 Spots up for open jumper, blows by overly aggressive Pinson closeout and converts finger roll.
20:45 Two US defenders converge on Birsen who swings to Mudiay. Mudiay attacks open lane to hoop and misses layup.
52:38 Tries to attack Oubre off the dribble, can’t get all the way to the rim, kicks it out to perimeter
55:59 Blows by Alexander after shot fake, misses layup
1:17:25 Blows by Travis, misses layup
1:17:51 Gets crafty inbounding to himself off of Turner’s behind, almost turns it over when Winslow is ready for him at rim.
1:25:29 Jukes Johnson, blows to the rim and finishes +1
1:27:15 Gets matched up vs Okafor on the switch, can’t blow by. Gives ball up, gets it back, still can’t get past Okafor and badly bricks floater.
6:25 Hits mid-range shot off the dribble
35:28 Badly bricks transition 3 attempt
41:00 Makes pull up 3 pointer
44:24 Misses pull up jumper with shot clock winding down
The World played quite a bit of zone and I couldn’t find much foot of Mudiay’s man to man mettle. His length caused problems as he finished with 3 steals. Note that I couldn’t find the timestamp for one of his steals where he deflected a Stanley Johnson inbounds pass and then saved it to his teammate, and it was his most impressive steal. The occasions a USA player ventured into his zone defensively he was somewhat lazy, which is partially understandable given his big role on offense.
5:09 Lazy swipe in transition
6:09 Lazy help
9:01 In zone, makes little effort to cut off Johnson drive
20:00 Doubles myles turner, comes up with steal when turner attacks and loses the ball
24:52 Plays matador defense as he lazily swipes vs Oubre in transition
57:28 Uses length to pick off Tyus Jones’s pass in transition, draws foul going back the other way
1:27:05 Just watches as Jones attacks his area of zone and banks in floater
This may be kind of a mess for anybody who wants to re-watch, but at least it organizes the things that he did in the game for my synopsis.
-Great size for PG. 6’5″ 200 lbs 6’8.5″ wingspan
-Strong athletic package: quicks, speed, and explosiveness all present
-Good ball handler
-Solid court vision
-Didn’t make any appalling decisions. Passed the ball when he was unable to get his shot off. Does not appear to have Andrew Harrison-ish blinders. Only blocked once from behind, was a great athletic play by Alexander and not a bad decision from Mudiay.
-Showed ability to be disruptive defensively with steals. Hard to accurately assess his instincts w/o bigger sample, however.
-Beast in the open court. He pushed pace diligently and attacked every time he had an opening.
-Sloppy with the ball. Threw away a number of passes
-Missed 5 clean looks at the rim. Can he finish in the half-court?
-Overall shot poorly at All-Star games. Between McDonald’s, Hoop Summit, Jordan Brand tallied 1/11 3’s 7/16 FT’s. DX says he shot 6/41 from 3 in EYBL. Is his shot broken?
-Somewhat lazy on defense. Will he capitalize on his tools on this end?
-Appears to be a work in progress in the half-court. This is where he needs to develop to successfully translate to tougher competition.
-Doesn’t have either an outlier tool or an outlier skill. What makes him a special snowflake?
Overall, there’s a lot to like and not much to hate, but what is there to truly love about Mudiay? First let’s start with his physical tools. They are definitely good, as he is a clear positive across the board. His body is similar to that of John Wall, who measured 6’4″ 196 lbs with a 6’9.25″ wingspan at the combine, only Mudiay was 1.5 years younger when he was measured. But I watched their high school mixtapes on youtube to compare their athleticism, and Mudiay is nowhere near as explosive as John Wall. Granted, he’s clearly a very good athlete and Wall is the gold standard for physical tools for a PG. But if we are talking about #1 overall for a PG with a pedestrian skill package, it’s hard to get too excited if he’s not going to be among the creme de la creme of athletes at his position.
The good news for his skill package is that nothing seems necessarily fatal. To me having blinders (this needs to become a scouting word, it is so descriptive of a common + important flaw) is the worst weakness a prospect can have. It was the reason why scouts so quickly soured on Andrew Harrison, he is awful at making crisp decisions. Once he puts the ball on the floor, he does often not changing his mind and frequently gets stuffed at the rim or turns it over. I was impressed with Mudiay’s ability to pass the ball when he didn’t have a clean look at the rim. Mudiay is also more athletic than Harrison, and with these two tidbits in mind I just don’t see Mudiay plummeting quite as hard as Harrison did.
But there are nevertheless reasons to be concerned. His shot might be broken, his passes were often off target, and he bricked 5 easily makeable layups. It seems that his fine motor skills are not good at delivering the ball where he intends it, and this is something that needs to improve. But if a player is going to be turnover prone, I’d rather it be due to sloppiness than blinders as the former is more fixable.
Also he didn’t seem to take a world of pride in his defense, which is never a good sign for a prospect you are banking on to become good defensively. I’d say he’s a major mystery box on this end. Even DX doesn’t take a stance on his defense in their scouting report, only noting that he has excellent potential without commenting either way on where he is now.
Overall it’s hard to know what to expect. I don’t believe he has as much risk of sliding the same way that Marquis Teague or Andrew Harrison did, as his tools are so universally strong across the board and his instincts appear competent enough such that I can’t envision giving up hope on him so early. I’d say even if he disappoints he has a strong chance of remaining in the lottery. But the reason why I didn’t list him in my top 5 most intriguing prospects is confirmed by his Hoop Summit performance: I don’t see the extreme level of upside that makes him worth the #1 pick at the deepest position in the NBA. Sure, he can become a top 5 NBA PG if he develops well enough, but what’s his ticket to the top 2? He doesn’t have crazy explosiveness, he doesn’t have any super skills or feel, he’s just a toolsy guy who does PG things well enough to be an appealing prospect. I don’t get the same sense of boundless upside that I got from watching Dante Exum’s signature performance vs. Spain.
I feel that after his freshman season, best case he looks like a toolsier Elfrid Payton. That is good, since Payton went 10th in a deeper draft and I liked the pick. In a thinner draft, that puts Mudiay in the conversation for #1 if neither Towns nor Okafor shines. Even if he doesn’t hit his upside he has a strong chance of ending up in the top 5 of my final big board. I suspect I’ll like him alright enough, but without a clear scenario where I truly love him as a prospect I’m marginally more excited for a handful of other freshmen. Best guess is that he ends up somewhere in the 3-10 range on my final big board, although he probably has a better shot of actually getting picked #1 than he does of ranking #1 according to me.
One last note– I don’t think it’s great that he is going to play for Larry Brown. Larry Brown to me is a dinosaur, in that he was probably awesome like 65 million years ago but is obsolete these days and may as well be extinct. His hatred of 3 point shots goes to show how stubbornly unsharp he is (check SMU 3PA’s vs 3PA allowed). He was a great hire for SMU since he quickly attracted enough talent to revitalize the program, and most college basketball coaches aren’t sharp minds anyway. But let’s not act like he’s going to teach Mudiay the right way to play basketball (although limiting his 3PA may not be the worst thing in the world for him).
Other Prospects At The Hoop Summit:
-The two prospects who guarded him the most were Stanley Johnson and Kelly Oubre. Johnson is quick for a prospect of his size, but I think asking him to stay in front of Mudiay was a bit too much as he had a hard time cutting off his drives. Also Johnson struggled to create off the dribble vs. the world zone. It could easily have just been a bad game, as it seems like it was a bad matchup for Johnson on a number of levels. But it woulda been nice if he did more to stand out.
-Oubre on the other hand showed awesome quicks as he seemingly cut off Mudiay’s drives at will. Literally every time Mudiay crossed paths with Oubre he had a bad time (7:08, 10:54, 22:35, 27:50, 52:38). Also Oubre’s block on Trey Lyles was pretty awesome (1:24:45). DraftExpress thinks Oubre has questionable defensive fundamentals, and I’m not yet ready to say that they are wrong but I’m starting to question their questions. Also from my mix tape studying Oubre might be the most explosive guy on the floor and he finished with 3 assists and 1 turnover, so he’s checking off all of the boxes for me. It’s possible that he’s like Wiggins but slightly less athletic and way better at basketball. Again, maybe just a good game/good matchup but my intrigue is growing.
-Jahlil Okafor is kind of a black hole. His final box score looks alright if you focus on the 14 points and 10 rebounds, but 0 assists and 4 turnovers are less impressive. Historically his assist stats are not good, so I hope he’s not just a bigger Jabari (which is an astute comparison that was made in the comment section of my prior post). The good news is that he showed some quick feet to stay in front of Mudiay twice in a row (1:27:15) which can somewhat mitigate his lack of rim protection.
-Tyus Jones is like 90% to be a boss. He might be my favorite college player in this class. He is small and lacks elite athleticism however, so this places a damper on his ability to have high NBA draft stock.
-Justise Winslow had a good game, although it was mostly from scoring points in transition, finishing a nifty lob from Jones, and hitting a buzzer beating 3 to end the 1st half. So I don’t think he proved he can fit in offensively at higher levels, he just had a good game. I still like him and remain hopeful for his Duke performance.
-Myles Turner was there but I believe he was combatting an injury that prevented him from shining. Based on his profile he seems to have at least some #1 overall equity, although he carries a slippery raw label which to me implies that he is bad at converting his physical strengths into production.
-Trey Lyles is completely meh to me. As far as I can tell he racks up points and rebounds without actually doing anything that will be exceptionally useful at the NBA level.
-Karl Towns had a disappointing game. 17 minutes, 6 points, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 4 fouls. If he has too many games like this at Kentucky he’s not going #1. But he did have a great block + rebound + outlet pass sequence at 8:22 that stood out to me.
-Cliff Alexander has a small slice of #1 equity, with the emphasis on small. He has a great PF body and is an explosive athlete, but he appears to have a center skill level which places a damper on his upside. He didn’t do too much this game, although he had an impressive block on Mudiay and a couple of tough goaltending calls went against him.
If I had to guess who would end up #1 on my big board among the players in the game, my rankings go Towns > Okafor > Oubre > Johnson > Turner > Winslow > Mudiay > Alexander > Jones. It’s the thinnest of thin slice predictions, so these rankings may look totally bananas a year from now. But I’m addicted to making predictions, so I may as well give it a whirl.