Like most young point guards, Nico Mannion grew up a fan of Steph Curry, hoping to mold his game after the Warriors star.
Mannion attended Curry's SC30 Select Camp in Walnut Creek as a high school star, and now is Curry's teammate after Golden State selected the Arizona product with the No. 48 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau looked at how Curry's camp is becoming a feeder system for the Warriors after Golden State drafted both Mannion and James Wiseman, both of whom are former attendees. According to Letourneau, Mannion has "spent hours" studying tape of Curry over the summer and had a simple message for the two-time MVP at his first Chase Center workout.
"On his first day working out at Chase Center last week, Mannion told Curry he is the best point guard of his generation," Letourneau writes. "And Mannion should know. In the 28 months after meeting Curry at camp, Mannion studied almost every part of the superstar’s game in detail."
The Warriors signed Mannion to a two-way contract and hope that he can grow into a solid backup point guard behind Curry with the upside to be a good NBA player.
Mannion impressed at Curry's camp as a high schooler, and Bruce Fraser, Curry's player development coach with the Warriors, was more impressed by the young guard.
“I walked away Day 1 saying, ‘To me, Nico’s one of my favorite players at this camp just because I love how smart he is and how tough he is,’” Fraser, who has known Mannion since he was 10, told Letourneau. “Those are intangibles that are hard to find.”
The Warriors might have found one of the steals of the draft in Mannion. Many NBA executives reportedly were stunned the electric guard fell to Golden State. But that's something Mannion orchestrated. Once he found out the Warriors were interested in him, he told other teams not to draft him in the second round in hopes he would fall to Golden State.
Now learning from one of his idols, Mannion is motivated by the 29 other teams that passed on him, even keeping a screenshot of the draft board on his phone to memorize the point guards taken ahead of him.
Shaky defensive effort and an inconsistent shot saw Mannion fall from an expected lottery pick to second-round steal. Now, he's studying Curry's every move in order to maximize the gift he was given by landing with one of the best franchises in the NBA.