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2018-19 Knicks Player Review: Emmanuel Mudiay

Mudiay provided scoring punch all season long, and changed the narrative about his young career.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Time goes fast in the world of sports. I’m pretty sure a lot of us remember first hearing about Emmanuel Mudiay as the top-notch high school recruit who took his talents to China for a year. That same kid now has four years of NBA experience.

This past season saw the former seventh overall pick have his best showing to date. Following two and a half years in Denver, where Mudiay experienced plenty of highs and lows, he was traded to the Knicks in February of 2018 (the Doug McDermott trade). And while the Texas native didn’t look good upon his arrival, he would quickly put things behind him and have a decent 2018-19 campaign.

2018-19 Stats: 59 G, 14.8 PPG, (44.6 FG% / 32.9 3PT% / 77.4 FT%), 3.9 APG, 3.3 RPG, 14.6 PER.

Even though Mudiay proved to be a fairly consistent scorer for the Knicks, it was the notable bump in his efficiency which made the biggest difference for him. Along with posting career-high marks in scoring, Mudiay also did the same thing in a few advanced statistical categories such as PER (14.6), turnover ratio (11.8), and true shooting percentage (53.1%).

And while Mudiay’s overall standing in those areas remain relatively low across the league, it should be noted that Mudiay carried a larger than expected workload on offense. Pretty much any NBA observer will agree that he shouldn’t be a starting point guard — he makes far more sense providing some scoring punch off the bench — but he was forced into that role for much of the season due to lack of viable options. The former first-round pick did, however, manage to maintain his production despite the arrival of fellow points Dennis Smith Jr. (via the Kristaps Porzingis trade) and Kadeem Allen (via Westchester).

From the middle of February until the end of March — a span of 18 games — Mudiay averaged 14.9 points, 3.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds while shooting an 45.3% from the field and almost 38.5% from three (on 3.6 attempts per game!). It was during that stretch where Mudiay had standout performances against the likes of the Lakers (28 points, 8 assists), Clippers (26 points, 7 assists), and Heat (24 points, 4 assists)

One mark against Mudiay was his inability to stay healthy. So far in Mudiay’s career, he hasn’t played in more than 70 games per season, and he only made 58 appearances for the Knicks in 2018-19.

Off-season Outlook:

This summer is huge for Mudiay because it’s his first as a free agent. Regardless of how the Knicks’ pursuit for a superstar (or two) turns out, Mudiay will be on the market as a restricted free agent. During his tenure in New York, Mudiay has proven that he at least deserves a place on an NBA roster, but is that place with the Knicks? The team has a glut of guards, with Smith and Allen slated to be back next season alongside Frank Ntilikina and Allonzo Trier. Chances are Mudiay will have to wait a little while before knowing where his career continues.

Yet at the same time, it’s important if this particular play-maker can improve his health.