Whenever University of Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman has had a chance, he’s done what he could to keep an eye on his former star player, rookie Moses Moody. It might help that Musselman himself is a former Warriors head coach, affording him plenty of opportunities to see how last year’s No. 14 pick is handling his transition to the NBA.
The reports so far—from Golden State star Stephen Curry to Santa Cruz G-League coach Seth Cooper—have been glowing.
“When he got the opportunity, he played really, really well,” Musselman told Heavy.com. “I talked to the G-League coach when I went to the Memphis game, the G-League coaching staff loved him, he played really well for them when he went down. I talked to Mike Dunleavy Jr., their assistant GM, and he raved about him.
“When we played Duke, the day of the game, Steph Curry came into the coaches’ locker room and just talked about what a great worker Moses is. My son, who is on our staff, is friends with Steve Kerr’s son and he said they all love him. In other words, they’re really happy with him.”
Warriors Did Homework on Moses Moody
It was something of a surprise last year at draft time when the Warriors were able to corral Moody as the final pick in the lottery, because most mock drafts and team boards hid him in the Top 10, or at least, Top 12. He averaged 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Razorbacks, shooting 42.7% from the field and 35.8% from the 3-point line.
Musselman, though, said the Warriors at least had hopes of Moody being around at 14th because he talked with the team before the draft.
“He had a great work ethic with us,” said Musselman, whose Razorbacks have been to the Elite Eight each of the past two NCAA tournaments. “That was some of the stuff that we talked about with Steve Kerr and that organization before the draft, was his work ethic. He came into the gym, the other guys would have earbuds in, listening to music, Moses would come in and everyone would be ready to work. He came in with the mindset that, ‘I’m going to be an NBA player and do it in one year,’ and that’s what he did.”
That can, in many cases, be a problem for college programs—players who enter school bent on being one-and-done prospects sometimes put their own stats ahead of team interests. Not the case with Moody at Arkansas, though.
“Everything was about the team, he was about winning,” Musselman said. “He was not a guy who came in and needed to get his shots and score a lot of points so he could go to the NBA. There were times when we would tell him, we needed him to shoot more, he could be too unselfish. But every game we went into, he had one thing on his mind, and that was how to win.”
‘He Might Be in a Great Spot’
Still, Warriors fans only got brief glimpses of Moody this season, as he averaged 4.4 points in 52 games, playing 11.7 minutes per game. He averaged 9.1 points in the 11 games that he started and had a memorable 30-point showing in March against the Nuggets. He averaged 24.0 points in five G-League games.
Moody, who will not turn 20 until the end of this month, might not see much playing time next year, either, when the Warriors will still have Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole (assuming he re-signs) in his shooting-guard spot. But after that, wing Andrew Wiggins will be a free agent, and Moody figures to be ready for a spike in minutes. The slow build-up could benefit him.
“When you look at the longevity of a player’s career, he might be in a great spot,” Musselman said. “His first experience in the NBA is around a great coaching staff, great organization, and veteran players that are winners. So he is getting to see what it takes to be on a championship-contending team. They might get to play but then their contract runs up and they don’t understand what it takes to win at that level. Moses is getting that experience now.”
Most important, especially for his future as a Warriors: Moody can make 3s. That will, eventually, get him on the floor in Golden State.
“I think he is going to have a great career because he has great size, he is a great worker, excellent attitude and can really space the floor and shoot,” Musselman said. “He is a knock-down, NBA-level perimeter shooter.”