After making his first career start Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns in place of a resting Steph Curry, Nico Mannion had the perfect word to describe the beginning of his NBA career so far.
"It’s kind of storybook," the 19-year-old guard said to reporters in a video conference after putting up nine points, four rebounds, six assists and a steal in the short-handed Warriors' loss to the Suns.
Mannion, who was selected by the Warriors in the second round of the 2020 draft, spent most of the last month in the G League bubble in Orlando, Fla. Golden State recalled the young guard, along with Jordan Poole, on Monday. Mannion gained the opportunity to show what he learned quickly, playing 31 minutes for his first substantial time in the NBA.
That opportunity couldn't have come at a more impactful location, either. Mannion went to high school at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix before playing college hoops at the University of Arizona in Tuscon. The fact he was able to make his first career start at Phoenix Suns Arena wasn't lost on him.
"My first 3-pointer happened in Utah where I grew up for the first 10 years of my life," Mannion said. "First start happens in Phoenix where I grew up the last seven or eight. It’s kind of surreal. My pops was in the stands, had a couple friends that I saw. It was awesome."
Mannion's sharpshooting was on display, as all nine of his points came on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. He also gained valuable experience playing against 11-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul and rising phenom Devin Booker.
"I felt good. I think the G League bubble had a lot to do with that," Mannion said. "Getting comfortable was the biggest thing for me. Once you’re comfortable it’s really not about who’s on the other team, because you’re comfortable with yourself."
While Mannion obviously will remain on a quick learning curve, he impressed Thursday and took full advantage of the opportunity. He also showed he was definitely comfortable.
Still, he's far from feeling settled.
"I still think I can of course do a lot better, but I’ll take it for my first real minutes in the NBA," Mannion added.
So will the Warriors. The team recalled Mannion and Poole to see if the duo can be valuable assets in the second half as Golden State pushes for the playoffs. If Thursday night was any indication, it seems the pair will be.