Mudiay Savors Trip Home
DALLAS – On Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, the Dallas Mavericks opened the preseason against the Denver Nuggets. Normally that wouldn’t be a story, but this visit from the denizens of the Mile High City was notable because it was the first trip back to Dallas for Prime Prep product Emmanuel Mudiay, whom the Nuggets took seventh in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Originally slated to go to SMU and play for Larry Brown, Mudiay instead spent last season in China, where injuries limited him to 12 games with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. In those 12 games, his numbers were solid: 18 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.9 APG and 1.6 SPG. And even though he spent much of his time in China on the sidelines, it wasn’t all bad for the 19-year-old talent.
“I went through some stuff,” Mudiay said. “The injury was probably the toughest thing, but other than that I learned the most I could. It wasn’t a horrible experience.” He admits he didn’t really like the food in China, a problem solved when his mom moved there and cooked for him on a regular basis.
After China, he made his way to the NBA Summer League, where Mudiay got his first taste of life in the Association. He earned a spot on the All Summer League Second Team and knows that experience helped prepare him well for his rookie season. “Almost (fully adjusted now), it’s definitely a learning curve still going on, but I’m happy where I’m at right now. I’m just going to keep learning,” Mudiay said.
And the Dallas-area product admits he’s already learned one pretty important thing about being a rookie, that patience can be your best friend. “Yeah, being patient and not getting in a rush (is important for any rookie), but the more I’m out there, the more comfortable it feels,” Mudiay said.
Against the Mavericks, he started and led the Nuggets in minutes with 31:11. Mudiay scored 17 points with five assists and seven turnovers, numbers which first-year Denver head coach Michael Malone saw in simple terms.
“Each game you see flashes of greatness and you see flashes of him being a rookie and making mistakes that he will get better at as the season goes on,” Malone said postgame. “I know full well that Emmanuel is his own toughest critic and he wants to be a great player. And he’ll get better as we go along. He did some great things tonight. There’s also a lot of areas that he has to continue to improve upon.”
Since he’s a rookie, he is of course subject to any rookie rites of passage as his Denver teammates see fit. Thus far, the pink backpack or something similar has yet to rear its head, but Mudiay is constantly on guard for such an initiation, especially from one veteran teammate, an ex-Mav, in particular.
“No, they don’t do that with me really. I’d say Jameer (Nelson) is probably the toughest one, but he’s cool,” Mudiay said.