Prior to the All-Star break, the New York Knicks suffered a losing streak of epic proportions. In one of those games, the team lost its franchise power forward for the rest of the season. Then, in the final game before the break, the Knicks blew a 27-point lead against the Washington Wizards.
With Kristaps Porzingis missing the All-Star game, the rest of this season, and possibly the start of the next one due to a torn ACL, the losing streak has had Knicks fans feeling hopeless.
However, there may now be at least a little reason for hoops fans in the Big Apple to feel good. Newly-acquired point guard Emmanuel Mudiay helped lead New York to a road win over the Orlando Magic in his first start for the team, which was the Knicks’ first game following All-Star weekend.
New York fans are certainly under no illusions that Mudiay and the rest of the squad will be making the playoffs this season. In fact, if anything it is now more important for the Knicks to position themselves in a way that earns them a high draft pick after the season is done.
But it is encouraging to see the Congolese baller play well in his first start for the Knicks. With veteran point guard Jarrett Jack sitting out the game, Mudiay was given a bigger role.
Selected by the Denver Nuggets with the seventh pick of the 2015 draft, many have had high hopes for Mudiay’s career. So far, he has under-delivered on his promise, but he might have a chance to further develop, contribute, and succeed since having been acquired by New York.
Born in what was then known as Zaire, Mudiay’s father died when he was very young. The Second Congo War placed his family in constant danger, leading his mother to seek asylum to the United States.
Mudiay became a standout high school basketball star in Texas, and then committed to play at Southern Methodist University. However, he skipped college and instead went on to play a season of professional basketball in China before entering the NBA draft.
It remains to be seen how often Mudiay will start for the Knicks, but getting a win his first time out is a good sign. He will almost certainly get plenty of playing time for the remainder of the season.
When Porzingis does return, Mudiay could become part of a unit that will turn around the struggling franchise.