Many NBA analysts over the years have thought Emmanuel Mudiay a disappointing player. After being the No. 7 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, his two stops in Denver and New York have largely proved underwhelming.
But as a bench player with the Utah Jazz, who signed him to a minimum deal last summer, he has started to turn that narrative around — particularly of late. In Utah’s current six-game winning streak, he’s been an integral part of the second unit’s production, whether by finding his own shot or creating for others.
“I’m in there with the starting group for a little bit and the bench unit for a little bit,” Mudiay said at Wednesday morning’s shootaround. “So [I’m] kind of figuring out how to pick my own spots and then trying to get everybody else involved too.”
When the Jazz acquired him, Mudiay insisted that he was focused on learning rather than proving his worth. He said at the time that he chose Utah because several players who did in the past had improved their games.
And while Mudiay isn’t having the best statistical season of his career, Jazz coach Quin Snyder has noticed his focus on improving himself. When asked pregame what he’s liked about Mudiay this season, he cited a laundry list of qualities: scoring, not getting screened on defense, working on corner 3-pointers and finishing at the rim, and several others.
All of those aspects, Snyder said, have fallen under Mudiay improving as a player.
“He’s really given himself up to the team and his teammates,” Snyder said pregame. “He’s just been immersed in the process of getting better.”
Mudiay will play against his former Knicks teammates Wednesday for the first time since signing with the Jazz. He said at shootaround that he still interacts with some members of New York’s coaching staff and a few of his former teammates, like Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson.
But on the whole, Mudiay has moved on from that part of his career and his grateful to be with the Jazz.
“When I closed that chapter of the book and came here,” Mudiay said, “I wasn’t thinking about them no more.”
Mudiay is averaging 7.4 points, 2.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game this season.