Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay both bring very different, but very exciting aspects to their newly joined Utah Jazz squad.
Obviously, after carrying out a blockbuster trade to add Mike Conley, adding one of the best free agent signings in Utah Jazz history in Bojan Bogdanovic, then using the room exception on a solid stud like Ed Davis, the Utah Jazz had exhausted their cap space leaving no room for further summer splashes. That said, the Jazz continued to do extremely well in free agency with a pair of savvy moves at that point.
Namely, the Utah Jazz added solid NBA veteran Jeff Green and high-upside point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, both on minimum contracts. Green filled a need for the Jazz at the power forward spot as a player who can defend multiple positions and stretch the floor as needed, much like Jae Crowder did prior to being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Meanwhile, Mudiay added further depth in the backcourt, especially behind the oft-injured Dante Exum, which was desperately needed after parting ways with Ricky Rubio, Grayson Allen and Raul Neto.
It was great to see Utah patch up two holes so effectively and at such a bargain price. But what’s even more interesting about the additions of Green and Mudiay is that both bring entirely different aspects to this Jazz squad. Specifically, Green brings security while Mudiay brings intrigue.
What I mean is that with Green, the Jazz know very much what they’re getting. At 32 years old and with 11 years of NBA experience, Jeff Green has largely established who he is in The Association. He’s a relentless worker who hustles every time he touches the court. He’s a capable and willing defender. And he’s more than able to space the floor and hit big three-point shots, just as he did a couple years ago in the playoffs during the Cleveland Cavaliers latest run to the NBA Finals where he was one of their better pieces outside of LeBron James.
Green is coming off a season where he shot just shy of 35 percent from deep, but he’s shot as well as 38.9 percent in a season in his career. He’s a guy that can get to the rim and easily put up double figure scoring numbers night in and night out. He most recently did so with the Washington Wizards where he posted 12.3 points per contest in 27.2 minutes of play.
It’s possible that Green will start at the power forward spot for the Jazz, allowing Bojan Bogdanovic to begin games in his more comfortable small forward spot with Joe Ingles coming off the bench. From there, Green would follow a similar path as Derrick Favors once did – commence on the floor with the starters, then leave the game relatively early while also ceding greater playing time to a bench player such as Ingles (like Favors did with Crowder).
Or, perhaps, Green will come off the bench and fill a similar stretch-four and versatile defender role like Jae Crowder did. Either way, the Jazz likely aren’t too worried about him faltering. He’s proven himself as a steady contributor on practically every team he’s played for. He should have no problem fitting in with the Jazz and having a positive impact for them right away.
Emmanuel Mudiay, on the other hand, is far less of a sure thing. A former lottery pick, the talented point guard is bursting with potential. However, he’s struggled to reach it thus far in his NBA career.
During his time with the Denver Nuggets, he never was able to find any semblance of efficiency as he shot under 40 percent from the field and under 32 percent from three in each of his first two seasons. He was wildly turnover prone and just never blossomed into the player that his raw abilities indicated.
However, he showed a bit more promise last season with the New York Knicks. Mudiay averaged 14.8 points per game, while upping his shooting percentages to 44.6 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from deep while starting 42 games. Those aren’t mind-blowing by any means, but they show a vast improvement, especially from the field.
There is plenty of reason to believe that he could also further enhance his game as well. In his final stint in Denver where he appeared in 42 games in 2017-18, he shot a solid 37.3 percent from deep. He’s also just 23 years old, and perhaps the most encouraging thing about his addition is that he and his agent actually sought out an opportunity to come to Utah.
Knowing how formidable the Jazz’s development program is, Mudiay saw this season as a chance to learn and grow to ideally take that step to the next level. If there’s any team and any coach that can maximize Emmanuel’s untapped potential, it’s the Jazz and Quin Snyder. His addition to the squad could provide Utah with a prolific bench scorer who can get to the rim and attack off the dribble while also ensuring that if Exum’s injury woes persist, the Jazz aren’t left high and dry.
Though there’s been questions about Mudiay’s effort and focus on defense, he definitely has the tools to be a plus-defender as he has solid size for a guard at six-foot-five, 200 pounds. If he’s truly in Utah to swallow his pride, put in work and improve his overall game, then you can bet that he’ll make defense a primary focus and put in a conscious effort on that end. Quin Snyder and Co. should help in that regard, and if he hopes to find playing time at all, he’ll have to up his game there.
It’s hard to know whether he will or not, but the good news is that in every way imaginable, Mudiay is a low-risk, high-reward pickup. If he continues to struggle with efficiency, turnovers and poor defense, he simply won’t find time on the floor. But if he reaches his potential and thrives in Utah, he could very well be yet another diamond in the rough for the Jazz.
In conclusion, if you’d like further insight into what Green and Mudiay will bring to the Jazz, be sure to check out a recent article from The Athletic’s Tony Jones (subscription required) in which he perfectly crafts their impact, referring to Green’s defensive versatility and ball-handling, as well as Mudiay’s encouraging athleticism, age and ability to create off the dribble.
His summaries perfectly state what the Jazz see in their two newest additions. Though not as flashy of signings as the previous three, both of them were solid pickups who I believe could thrive extremely well in their new roles.
I couldn’t be more excited for the 2019-20 season, and the steadiness of Jeff Green and the high-potential possibilities of Emmanuel Mudiay are two massive reasons for that.