With the NBA Draft less than a month away, we're taking a look at how potential lottery picks fit with the New York Knicks. Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay is one player who may be on the board for New York, which has the fourth pick.
Below is a look at how Mudiay could impact the Knicks:
How will Mudiay fit in the triangle?
Mudiay showed in China that he thrives in the pick-and-roll, a play that isn’t prevalent in the triangle offense.
Derek Fisher’s Knicks ran the pick-and-roll on 11 percent of their plays last season, which ranked 28th in the league. But they did increase the frequency of pick and roll plays throughout the year. Maybe bringing Mudiay in forces them to run more pick-and-roll this season?
“You know that the organization is married to the triangle, but we also know that when the clock went low in Chicago and Los Angeles they gave the ball to Michael (Jordan) and Kobe (Bryant) and got out of the way. So if there are ways to use Mudiay in isolation and pick-and-roll, it would be to his benefit because it’s one of his strengths,” ESPN NBA Draft Insider Fran Fraschilla says. “It would have to be some adjustment on the part of the coaching staff to put him in more pick-and-roll.”
At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-8.5 wingspan, Mudiay has the physical attributes that Phil Jackson covets in his guards (think 6-foot-6 guard Ron Harper). This allows him to see over the defense for entry passes and passes to cutters – two cornerstones of the triangle. Mudiay also rebounds well for his position (six rebounds per game in 10 CBA regular season games), which would help a Knicks club that ranked 28th in the league in defensive rebounding rate and 29th in offensive rebounding.
“He’s a great board man for his size,” says Ryan Blake, the senior scouting consultant for the NBA.
Mudiay’s size, speed and quickness also lead most to believe that he will be able to get to the rim frequently in the NBA. This could benefit a Knicks team that finished in the bottom third in drives and points off of drives last season.
“He also causes fouls and gets to the free throw line,” notes Wally Szczerbiak, a Knicks analyst on MSG and a CBS Sports Network college basketball analyst.
Again, this quality may help a Knicks team that finished 27th in free throw rate. Though it should be noted that Mudiay shot just 50 percent from the free throw line in China and struggled with his perimeter shooting (30 percent from beyond the arc).
So the Knicks coaching staff would have to help Mudiay with his shot, since perimeter shooting from the guards is a key component of the offense.
How can he complement Carmelo?
Fraschilla notes that Mudiay’s ability to penetrate the defense should help Carmelo Anthony – and any other Knick on the floor with him.
“The whole idea of a point guard (like Mudiay) who can get into the paint is about creating easy opportunities for his teammates,” Fraschilla says.
If the Knicks can find a player who can create easy looks for Anthony, it’s logical to think that this could give Anthony a better chance at remaining healthy and productive over the remaining four years of his contract. Though, admittedly, this assumption is based on many factors that are difficult to predict, such as if opposing teams will even leave Anthony alone to help on a driving Mudiay.
What will he bring on defense?
New York languished in the bottom third in the league in opponent field goal percentage in the paint for much of the season and was in the bottom five in opponent 3-point field goal percentage.
If Mudiay develops into the defender that many scouts project him to be, he should help the Knicks in both areas. Observers believe he'll have the strength to get over screens in pick-and-roll situations and the quickness to stay in front of most guards.
“He played with grown men in China. There’s no reason he should not become a very good defender because he’s got positional size, speed, quickness and strength,” Fraschilla said. “It’s just now a matter of ‘want to’ from him. My dealing with him is he’s a high-character kid.”