Today we look at Italian born point guard and Arizona Wildcat, Nico Mannion.
Height: 6’ 3’’
Weight: 190 lbs
Born: Siena, Italy
High School: Pinnacle
Mannion’s biggest asset is his court vision and elite ability to distribute. I really enjoy watching him run the pick-and-roll due to his vision and excellent footwork. When he plays PnR with the power forward or center, he increases the pass angle by a step back after the drive. When the big pops out, he drives into the lane and creates even more room for the shooter. He flashes excellent feel and defensive manipulation to create opportunities for others.
He’s also fantastic at changing speeds. Mannion understands the flow of the game and is opportunistic with his timing. The game doesn’t appear too fast for him at all, as he’s superb with the ball and distribution in transition.
In modern basketball where pace & space is emphasized, accelerated pass rates, volume three-point shooting; what constitutes an ideal point guard? Ball-handling like Kyrie Irving, three-point shooting like Steph Curry, and Chris Paul’s intelligence? If ever there was a player that had all this, we’d be looking at the G.O.A.T.
While that combination of elite skills is surely unattainable, Nico Mannion can do each of them at least an adequate level. He’s lightning-quick to pull up out of the live dribble and has a killer floater, but when he’s been asked to shoot the three he does so without hesitation.
- Good ball-handler.
- Creates offense for himself and the team.
- Strong basketball IQ.
- Crisp, on-target passing with both hands.
- Clean shooting mechanism. Sharp, fast, parallel feet and ideal elbow angle.
- Shooting 37.7 3P% in NCAA.
- Reliable free throw shooter. 77.8 FT% in NCAA.
- Wide court vision.
- Average athleticism but solid body control.
Physics physics physics. Nico Mannion has the skill set to become an elite guard, but his physical limitations may prevent it. He doesn’t have good size or length with a 6’2.5 wingspan and 8’1.5 standing reach. Only has average athleticism and explosiveness, (especially when compared to other PGs in the class); his body control in traffic is solid but he still struggles to get to the rim.
His first step is good, but when he doesn’t create separation immediately, he sometimes has difficulty changing directions.
Mannion’s decision-making is generally good, other than shot selection. It’s not that he takes a bunch of poor shots, but he often settles for more difficult options because he struggles to create in traffic.
Even though he’ll never be relied upon to gather rebounds, I would like to see an increase from the 2.0/game this season.
Nico Mannion has the basketball IQ & feel to be an elite guard and will continue to learn/progress as long as he is given the opportunity. I envision a selection in the 6-12 range in the draft, as he has to tools to be a solid NBA starter. He’s ambitious, smart, and has killer instincts. In short, my friend, he’s a Vito Corleone.
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