DENVER — Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly failed in several attempts to watch Emmanuel Mudiay play in person.
That didn't stop him from picking the young point guard in the first round of the NBA draft on Thursday.
The Nuggets selected Mudiay with the seventh overall pick, giving Connelly a player he coveted from afar.
"I'm giddy," Connelly said. "We actually talked about moving up for Emmanuel. Through the research we figured it was kind of a calculated risk to let the draft come to us and we got lucky. Were able to sit tight and we get a guy we really value."
Mudiay was also excited to go to the Nuggets at No.7 and vowed to make Denver a winner.
"I'm a winner, I just want to win as many championships as I can," he said on a conference call. "That's one thing I want to bring to the city."
The Nuggets added a second point guard with the selection of Serbian Nikola Radicevic, 21, with the 57th pick. Connelly said the 6-5, 200-pound Radicevic, who has played the last three years in Spain, would likely remain in Europe.
Connelly said the Nuggets had trade talks with several teams throughout the night but nothing was agreed upon.
"We were aggressive, we were involved in a lot of conversations after our pick," he said. "We were close to getting some things done but it takes two teams."
The selection of two point guards may signal the end of the Ty Lawson era in Denver. Lawson has been the subject of trade rumors since the season ended April 12.
Connelly said he became aware of an Internet video of Lawson saying "I'm going to Sacramento" after Mudiay was picked, but he wasn't concerned.
"Oftentimes there's poor judgment used by all of our players," Connelly said. "I don't think it's the best of judgment to say something like that, it doesn't excite me. I haven't watched the full video so it would be unfair for me to speak on it."
Connelly said he texted with Lawson during the draft but didn't elaborate on what was said.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Mudiay averaged 18 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.9 rebounds in 10 games for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association in 2014-15.
He originally committed to attend SMU before turning pro.
An ankle injury limited Mudiay to a shortened pro season with Guangdong. Before the injury, he scored a season-high 29 points in his second game with the Southern Tigers. He recorded a triple-double later in the season with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.
He returned March 1 and scored 24 points to help Guangdong avoid elimination in Game 3 of the semifinals of the playoffs. The Southern Tigers were eliminated in four games.
Mudiay is happy with his decision to play in China despite his limited action.
"I don't regret it, not one bit," he said. "I think the most difficult thing that happened was when I went down with an injury. The country was great to me, the fan base, the coaches, the teams, everybody treated me well. The difference was the physicality of the game. It was like playoff basketball."
Connelly was scheduled to fly to China in December to watch Mudiay play when he sprained his ankle. Connelly tried, unsuccessfully, to have Mudiay come to Denver for a pre-draft workout, but not seeing him in person didn't deter him from picking the guard.
"I've watched every minute of his Chinese games, several times," Connelly said. "We talked to teammates, we talked to coaches, we talked to high school guys, we talked to AAU guys. We got a pretty clear picture."
Mudiay was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996 and moved to Dallas with his two brothers in 2001.
The pick was Denver's highest since selecting Carmelo Anthony third overall in 2003.
Anthony's arrival started a run of 10 straight playoff appearances for the Nuggets. He was traded to New York in 2011 and two seasons later Denver won a franchise-best 57 games. The team fired George Karl after a ninth first-round exit, even after he won coach of the year honors. Brian Shaw was hired but his half-court style clashed with his roster and he was fired in March.
The Nuggets went 30-52 in 2014-15, their lowest win total since going 17-65 in 2002-03, and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
Mudiay is the first addition of the Michael Malone era in Denver. Malone was hired as head coach June 15 to get the team back to the playoffs. Malone is known for his defensive acumen but has vowed to run with the Nuggets while improving the team's defense.