UTAH JAZZ

Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: Nico Mannion

Nov 11, 2020, 2:50 PM | Updated: Nov 12, 2020, 11:21 am
Nico Mannion of the Arizona Wildcats (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
Nico Mannion of the Arizona Wildcats (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA Draft is one week away and the Utah Jazz will soon find themselves on the board with the 23rd pick in the draft. While there remains questions marks about who will be available when the Jazz are selecting, a trio of talented freshman from Arizona are expected to be drafted between the end of the lottery and the early second round. Today, we look at Arizona’s freshman point guard Nico Mannion.

The Jazz own just one pick in the November 18 draft after sending out their second-round pick in a trade to acquire Kyle Korver in 2018.

Nico Mannion: 6’3, 190 lbs PG – Fr – Arizona

14 points, 5.3 assists, 2.5 rebounds 39% FG/32% 3p/79% FT

Pros:

For fans of college basketball, Nico Mannion should be a familiar name. The former top 10 high school prospect attended Arizona with the expectation that he would be a one and done star with a future as a lottery pick.

Mannion has shades of the modern NBA point guard mixed with the traditional floor general tendencies that could make him a fixture in the NBA for the next decade. The guard has good athleticism with quick feet, and a body that when developed ought to be able to handle the rigors of bigger more physical NBA players.

The freshman looks most comfortable in an uptempo game operating offensively in transition, including a dangerous pull-up three-point shot that looks comfortable all the way out to NBA range.

In transition, Mannion is comfortable with his dribble and keeps his eyes up scanning the floor with a strong understanding of where his teammates are running the floor. It’s those types of traits that made Mannion such a dominant prep player.

When the game slows down, Mannion is a good halfcourt guard initiating an offense and running through Arizona’s offensive sets. The freshman has a stellar feel for the game and has a deep bag of tricks as a passer.

While not a stellar defender, his ability to move his feet on the perimeter are cause for optimist that the guard can hold his own at the NBA level, even if he’s relegated to defending mostly smaller backcourt opponents.

Cons:

Despite Mannion’s apparent quickness and athleticism, he rarely used it to his advantage at Arizona, instead relying on his shooting ability to impact the game offensively.

Unfortunately, Mannion’s shooting numbers didn’t connect at an efficient enough rate for that strategy to keep the freshman in the lottery conversation. Knocking down fewer than 40 percent of his field goals, less than a third of his three-point shots, and shooting below 80 percent from the free-throw line, Mannion’s shooting numbers are a concern heading into his NBA season.

Even before college, Mannion’s shooting numbers were less than reliable, casting doubts on whether he will be a consistent enough shooter at the next level to be an impact player.

When Mannion does try to attack off the dribble his college-level competition was regularly able to stay in front of him which prevented opportunities to shine as a drive and kick creator. When he did get into the paint, he often settled for floaters rather than getting to the rim for easy finishes at the basket.

There are unquestionably tools there to work with, but Mannion is far from a guaranteed NBA player and there will likely be several other safer options in a guard-heavy draft class that could push the once highly touted freshman into the second round of the draft.

How Would Mannion Fit with the Jazz in the Draft?

With the long term futures of Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson up in the air, adding guard depth to the Jazz roster will be a priority in the next eight months. The Jazz will have to either bring back their guard line from last season, including rarely used Emmanuel Mudiay or look to find more depth in free agency or the draft.

Mannion still posses strong upside and projects as a capable NBA shooter which could fit in the Jazz system. Additionally, he may find more success attacking the paint with the type of spacing Quin Snyder’s offense would create.

Mannion’s father Pace played at the University of Utah and spent time in the NBA, including with the Jazz, as a result, Mannion has a clear feel for the game that was developed early in his basketball career. It could also make the transition to the NBA easier landing in a familiar as he adjusts to the rigors of the pro game.

However, the Jazz have discussed wanting to add size, defensive integrity, and length to the roster, none of which are strengths in Mannion’s game.

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