NBA Position: Lead Guard
*Note: the following was derived almost solely based on watching youtube highlight clips, not full-game clips like other prospects. Thus, interpret accordingly.
- Elite Size and Length (6’8’’ Wingspan) for an NBA Lead Guard
- Strong NBA Ready Body that Can Absorb and Finish Through Contact
- Explosive Run and Jump Athlete With Elite Start and Stop Ability
- Can Finish Above the Rim Explosively
- Open Court Transition Speed, Awareness and Capability of Finishing or Locating Cutters/Shooters
- Can Go Left or Right, Change Speeds and Finish with Either Hand
- Dribble Penetration
- Quick First Step off the Bounce
- Ball Skills: Wiggle, Handle (Dynamic Hesitation Move), Change of Pace
- Elite Pick and Roll Guard, Patiently Probes and Prods the Defense Until Openings Arise
- Can Split the Defense in Pick and Roll and Find the Open Man going 4 on 3
- Exploits Pick and Roll Coverage with an Assortment of Pocket Passes, Lobs, and Cross-Court Looks Finding Shooters in the Corners
- Uses Length and Explosiveness to Secure Rebounds on Both Sides of the Ball
- Lateral Agility Defensively, Can Wall Off Quick Guards
- Size to Fight Over Picks, Speed to Recover to his Man and Length to Challenge Shots
- Defensive Positional Versatility with Size, Frame and Length
- Uses Length and Wingspan in Passing Lanes to Create Turnovers
- Has Immediate Acceleration and Speed to Close Out to Shooters
Mudiay has elite measurables for an NBA lead guard, sporting elite size, length and an NBA ready frame. His body is already developed enough to absorb and finish through contact at the rim.
Mudiay projects a power guard with plus athleticism. While he isn’t a top-shelf athlete in the Westbrook/Wall mode as some have advertised him to be, he’s still a great athlete capable of finishing explosively above the rim. There is a scouting term when evaluating prospective NFL pass-rushers: the ability to convert speed to power. Mudiay embodies that description (in a weird cross-sport comparison) with his ability to change directions, pace and start and stop quickly, while transitioning to utilizing power to finish with either hand as a plus run and jump athlete.
Mudiay’s two greatest strengths are his ability to get to the rim and finish through contact, as well as his comfortability operating in pick and roll. In today’s NBA you need someone who can get into the lane and move defenses to create high percentage looks at the rim or open perimeter spot-up opportunities. Mudiay has the explosive first step, speed, handle and wiggle to beat the first line of the defense and initiate the required help rotations to create looks. He is capable of accelerating quickly with the ball left or right, and has enough ball-skills with an established hesitation move to create space off the dribble. He’s a dual threat as a finisher (as touched on above with his ability to finish above the rim and through contact), and a passer, possessing excellent vision keeping his head up to read defenses. While not quite on the same level as D’Angelo Russell in terms of court vision, Mudiay is advanced at making reads and locating shooters or cutters. As for the latter, Mudiay is very comfortable operating in the pick and roll, the baseline set for most NBA teams. He patiently probes and prods defenses, displaying advanced patience and understanding of how to use even tight spaces to identify weak spots in defenses. He is especially excellent at putting a defender on his hip and navigating space. He is fully capable of exploiting pick and roll coverages in a variety of ways via an assortment of pocket passes, lobs, and cross-court looks finding shooters in the corners, while also showing the ability to split traps and locate the open man in 4 on 3 situations. Overall, Mudiay has advanced feel for the pick and roll aspect of the game, and should be able to be utilized effectively in middle pick and roll rub actions if he develops a respectable jump shot on the NBA level.
Another elite component of Mudiay’s game is transition play. Mudiay is the best transition lead guard in the draft, where he utilizes a combination of open court speed, athleticism and patience to dissect defenses before they set. He is also a quietly solid rebounder, showing a willingness to mix it up using his powerful frame, length and explosiveness to attack the glass.
Defensively, Mudiay has the lateral quickness and frame to wall off quick guards and stymie penetration. At his size he also has the physical tools to ice pick and rolls in utilizing his body to force his man away from the pick, as well as absorb contact from screeners fighting through either picks or off-ball screens. At his size and length, he possesses some defensive positional versatility, allowing him to guard some wings in half-court settings or switch onto wings in transition to negate open looks before the defense sets.
Lastly, Mudiay has the immediate acceleration, speed and length to help and recover out to the three-point line on close-outs to contest shots. He also uses his physical tools, most specifically his wingspan, to play passing lanes and create turnovers.
- Shooting Mechanics: Launches Out
- Inconsistent Shooter from the Foul Line
- Inaccurate Deep Range Shooter, Defenses Will Sag Off Him Off-Ball and Go Way Under Picks
- Careless Turnovers Off the Pass and Dribble
- Shot Selection
- Consistent Defensive Effort
Mudiay’s question-marks as an NBA player reside almost solely around his ability to shoot. While his shot is not “broken”, the combination of his shooting mechanics (launches out) and his inconsistency in multiple levels (free throw, three point line) do not inspire a ton of confidence. Simply put, it’s difficult to thrive in the league as a lead guard who needs the ball but can’t space the floor. Defenders will go under picks in the pick and roll on-ball and help off non-shooters off-ball (in murderous fashion in the playoffs), both which stymie spacing. Inhuman athletes like Westbrook can get away with not being able to shoot efficiently. Mudiay is not at that athletic level.
There are other non-chronic issues with Mudiay’s game, most all-to-often found in young prospects. Mudiay suffers from trying to make the million dollar pass at times, leading to careless turnovers. He also exhibits questionable shot selection and defensive effort. None of these blemishes concern me, as Mudiay has the feel for the game and physical tools to be molded by NBA coaching, mitigating these faults.
Offense: High Pace/Transition Oriented
One of the ways to mitigate the damage of a ball-dominant guard who can’t shoot is to employ a more transition-based scheme that capitalizes on exploiting defenses in the open court before they set via quick outlets and early offense drag screens. Mudiay should be placed into such a system that can extract his positives as a dynamic open court player, both as a finisher and passer, which should help overcompensate for his shortcomings as a floor-spacer in the half-court.
Defense: Scheme Versatile, Capable of Icing Pick and Roll
Mudiay projects as a plus long-term defender at the lead guard position, and due to his size, length and frame can be employed in multiple schemes. He’s capable of bodying his man away from picks an in an ice scheme, while also possessing the speed and power fight over screens and recover to stay on the hip of his man in conservative schemes. In the right matchups Mudiay can also switch onto some wings if opposing teams run a 1/3 pick and roll for instance, and can outright match up with some wings off ball fighting through screens or using his length to help and recover on closeouts.
Team Fit: Sacramento Kings
There is no perfect fit for a lead guard who can’t shoot, rendering this a close call between the Sixers and Kings. The Sixers value transition play and defense, two of Mudiay’s calling cards. However, spacing projects to be cramped with Noel and Embiid manning the 4/5 positions. Cousins offers enough floor-spacing and perimeter playmaking to accommodate Mudiay. A George Karl offense is pillared on pushing the pace and attacking off the dribble, two of Mudiay’s strong suits, and we already know Randive wants to employ an up-tempo style. If the Kings get enough floor-spacing from the wing positions, a fit here is tentatively doable, as the Kings badly need a playmaking lead guard who can create looks for Cousins.
NBA Player Comparison: Better Passing Tyreke Evans
Mudiay has many qualities similar to Evans as a power guard who can get into the lane and break defenses down to finish at the rim. However, Mudiay has a superior feel for the game and vision as a passer, rendering him more of a dual-threat than Evans. Mudiay also does not seem to have the inclination to run into every live body near the rim like a heat-seeker. As a tier 2 athlete with concerning floor-spacing issues, Mudiay projects similar to Evans, but is a superior passer/decision-maker.
Upside: High Level Starter
Mudiay has a discernible and desirable NBA level skill as a playmaker/shot-creator with his ability to get to the rim, but it’s difficult to project all-star status to lead guards who can’t space the floor. Lead guards are the deepest position in the league right now, sparking an interesting debate: does that render acquiring an elite lead guard more important or due to the depth there is acquiring an above-average one good enough? Mudiay may very well be a top 10-12 lead guard, but I’d be hesitant to project top 5 to anyone at this position who either aren’t elite shooting threats or elite athletes. Mudiay is neither, and with how rich the top 8 of this draft is with other, more highly coveted skill-sets, I have him at 8th overall, projected as a high level starter, but a notch below all-star level.