The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Mouhamed Gueye Shines in NBA Preseason Debut, A Bright Future Emerging

Gueye shows off raw talent, adaptability and speed
WSU forward Mouhamed Gueye celebrated during a NCAA men’s basketball game against California Jan 11th.

When Mouhamed Gueye was first drafted, it was almost impossible to tell what team he was headed to. The Celtics and Hornets were both briefly in possession of his draft rights, but he wound up in Atlanta with Trae Young and the Hawks. After a good Summer League, he has now made his preseason debut. The Hawks played the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night in Atlanta in their first game of the NBA preseason.

Gueye checked in during a Cleveland free throw with around six minutes left in the third. He immediately got the ball and shot it from outside. While the shot missed, it was the type of shooting confidence that the NBA is looking for, and his form looked even better than it did at WSU. 

Within a minute, he was finding the right pass out of double-teams on offense and he was guarding the ball handler as often as could be schemed by Atlanta.

All that to say, he looked right at home. 

Gueye was even called upon to bring the ball up the floor on offense, something he hardly did even when the Cougs had no true point guards playing regularly.

It took Gueye a while to record his first statistic, an assist on a quick hand-off to AJ Griffin who shot a three. The stats kept coming from there. Gueye missed another confident three, but he followed a breaking Dean Wade off the rebound and got a steal from behind. The steal led to an Onyeka Okongwu layup.

Gueye finally got his first points on a deep feed from Patty Mills, laying it up after high-pointing the ball like an elite tight end over Ty Jerome and Isaac Okoro.

All that happened in the last five minutes of the third quarter. Once the fourth began, Gueye had a harder time, and it became clear that he is still a raw prospect. There is a reason he went in the second round, after all. However, he was still showing his elite movement on both ends, and got open a number of times but was overlooked for other shooters.

The Hawks won as the Cavs’ Dean Wade missed a game-winner with 1.6 seconds left. Gueye was guarding the trigger-man Isaiah Mobley, his immense stature and wingspan making a solid inbound pass nearly impossible for Cleveland. To say he won the game for the Hawks might be hyperbole… but he won the game for the Hawks by making the final play so difficult to execute.

He finished the game having played almost 18 minutes. The first game of the NBA preseason is usually where teams give some run to what will be their regular season rotation. Gueye playing this much looks great for his odds of being an everyday player in Atlanta as a rookie.

The NBA moves fast. Gueye is faster than most, but even he will take some time to get up to speed. This game did not pop on the box score, but Gueye passed the eye test better than just about anybody. He has already adapted his game to the NBA style, taking more threes and playing less in the paint. That bodes extremely well, and there is a good chance that by mid-season he is being talked about as a draft steal for the Hawks.

Gueye was not the only Coug suited up for this game.

Justin Powell, who is currently on an Exhibit 10 deal for the Cavaliers, did not see the court in this game.

“Justin is on an Exhibit 10 contract (the equivalent of a training camp invite deal). If he makes it to the last cuts/final days of camp, his rights would be assigned to our G-League team, the Cleveland Charge and he would be eligible for a standard G-League contract,” said a Cavaliers media source.

The teams tonight were clearly trying to play their actual rotations for the regular season or at least something close to that. Seeing as Powell is likely going to be starting in the G-League, he should see his preseason debut at a later date.

As will certainly be pointed out by detractors, it is just the preseason. However, the Cavs are a very good team, and during Gueye’s best minutes on Tuesday, they were playing veterans who will be in their regular season rotation. He looked good against them, especially on defense. It might only be the preseason, but that does not mean it can not be the start of a successful NBA career for the big man fresh off the Palouse.

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About the Contributors
HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen sports co-editor
Hayden Stinchfield is a senior in Criminology from Washougal, WA. He is considered by some experts to be the greatest to ever spot birds. Hayden began working at the Evergreen in fall 2022, and became Sports Co-Editor in summer 2023.
HAILEE SPEIR, Evergreen photo editor
Hailee Speir is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Hailee is a junior English education major from Spokane, Washington. Hailee started working for the Evergreen in fall 2021 as a photographer.