You’ve probably seen Nico Mannion on the Warriors’ bench this season. But he hasn’t been wearing a jersey yet. He's instead stuck in a polo, biding his time and high-fiving his teammates when they come off the floor.
The second-round pick spoke to the media Saturday about his development from the bench and behind the scenes.
“I can see myself out there on the floor,” Mannion said in a video conference with reporters. “I think I fit that style, just the quick decision-making.”
The rookie out of Arizona is playing on a two-way contract, meaning he’s eligible to play in 50 of the team’s 72 games this season. For now, he’s deep in the rotation on a roster full of guards. Of course, there’s Steph Curry, who’s playing a team-high 32.8 minutes per game this year. Backups Brad Wanamaker (17.6 minutes), Damion Lee (17.4 minutes), Jordan Poole (12.6 minutes), and Mychal Mulder (11.2 minutes) have also been getting the rotation minutes in the backcourt.
The Warriors are knocking on wood that none of those guys get hurt after experiencing injuries in the frontcourt. But that might be the only way Mannion breaks his way into some playing time in the near future.
“They just told me to be ready,” Mannion said. “If someone goes down, I’ll be there. Just trying to adjust and learn as much as I can right now. Trying to see it as a glass half full right now that I get some more time to prepare. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it.”
But Mannion said he has been improving immensely in practice and the film room. Remember, it has only been 45 days since the Warriors picked him with the No. 48 selection in the draft.
“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with the ball in my hands, off the ball, wherever I’m playing,” Mannion said. “I feel really good on the floor. Shots are starting to fall. Like I said, one thing I can bring is energy. Just trying to bring that every day in the scrimmages and live drills.”
Mannion made a name for himself at the University of Arizona as a fast-paced, crafty-passing point guard last year. He averaged 14 points and 5.3 assists per game on a team that also featured first-round picks Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji.
Mannion showed off his burst in the preseason but likely will have to be a bit more patient to crack the rotation. For now, he’s approaching each game day like it could be his debut.
“That’s kind of what I have going through my mind every day,” Mannion said. “Be ready, because at any point I could get that opportunity.”