Stephen Curry. Russell Westbrook. Chris Paul. These stellar guards are constantly lauded because of their exemplary play. In addition, on a nightly basis, these guys have the daunting task of guarding elite athletes at their positions. So, when the Denver Nuggets axed former face of the franchise, Ty Lawson, they opted to find a new leader to take the reins and deal with the arduous challenge of hooping against some of the NBA’s best PGs.

Enter, Emmanuel Mudiay. The 19-year-old guard from the Congo has been a prize prospect for years. Because of his insane athleticism and savvy basketball IQ, it’s easy for scouts to be enamored by his game. The kid is oozing with potential. In addition, despite having a baby face and being under the age of 21, his mentality is one of 28-year-old.

After he elected to skip his freshman year at SMU, Mudiay ventured over to China at just 18 years old. Despite being marred by injuries, he showcased his maturity and poise by going head-to-head against veteran overseas players. His performance earned him a trip to the NBA draft this past June, where he was named the 7th overall pick.

With Mike Malone now at the helm as Denver’s newest head coach, he’ll count on Mudiay to quarterback the team. So far through his first four games in the preseason, Mudiay is averaging 13 points and 6 assists. Despite being turnover prone, he’s only in the early stages of his career. So you can expect those numbers to drop drastically after he gets a full handle of the game.

We spoke to Mudiay at the NBA Rookie Photoshoot by Panini about being selected by the Nuggets in the draft, which guard is he most excited to face his rookie year, and his performance during summer league.

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