Arizona Point Guard Nico Mannion is the newest prospect to declare for the NBA draft. Mannion is a talented scorer, but he has one of the most uncertain draft positions for this class. Mannion could be drafted anywhere from the top ten, to falling below 20. It really just depends on if someone is willing to take a chance on him.
Mannion is a solid all-around offensive player. He struggles with consistency, shooting just 39.2% from the field, but his talent is undeniable. In his one season at Arizona, he averaged 14.0 points, 5.3 assists, and 1.2 steals. His assists and steals are much more impressive than his scoring as he takes a lot of shots to get those 14 points.
His playmaking is undeniably impressive. 5.3 assists per game speak for themselves which, in college, is a lot more impressive. Mannion’s main role in the NBA is going to be as a floor general when he is on the floor. Mannion likely won’t start if he’s not drafted in the top ten as most teams already have a solid Point Guard, but he could be a real difference-maker off the bench.
A team that could really use Mannion’s services is the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix lacks backcourt depth behind Rubio and Booker. Elie Okobo is not the option for a team that’s trying not to waste Booker’s career. Okobo is equally as inconsistent as the 19-year-old prospect, but without any of the talent. Mannion would be a great addition to Phoenix’s bench and they could give the young man the reins to see what he’s got when Booker is sitting.
Going to the opposite end of where he could be drafted, a team that should scoop him up if he falls in the draft is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are in dire need of a Center but both Okongwu and Wiseman will be gone by #17, which is where the Celtics would pick via the Memphis Grizzlies, so their best option to find a big man is in free agency. Pairing Nico Mannion with Marcus Smart has the potential to be the best backup backcourt duo in the NBA. Between Smart’s defense and Mannion’s scoring they’d be disastrous for opposing teams. They’re also both unselfish players who are talented playmakers so they would play nicely off each other. Mannion could play a key piece in helping the Celtics reach the next level as they try to contend in the Eastern Conference.
Mannion’s draft stock is quite unknown right now. He has a high ceiling, but a low floor as well. It’s going to be very interesting to see his career play out.