Warriors guard Nico Mannion probably is entering the NBA with higher expectations than your usual second-round pick.
Considered a top-10 prospect out of high school, Mannion joining Golden State has excited analysts and fans alike, with the Warriors potentially offering the perfect environment for him to blossom.
Mannion's development will benefit from the guidance of the Warriors' coaching staff, Golden State's veterans and even the team's playing style, but former Warrior and new NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Dorell Wright believes that simply transitioning from college basketball to the NBA could be a major factor.
"Oh yeah, 100 percent," Wright replied when asked on the latest episode of the "Dubs Talk" podcast if Mannion's game might be better suited for the NBA.
"I feel like a lot of players are more fit for the NBA. You look at all these players that went undrafted, like Fred Van Vleet, and guys that went in the second round like Monta Ellis, and they get to the NBA and they flourish because it's a more open court, they can use their ballh-andling skills to get to the rim.
"[Mannion's] athletic. He can finish over the top of some guys. He's a playmaker, so I'm really excited to see him."
Wright, like Ellis, entered the NBA straight out of high school. That was before the league required players entering the draft to be at least 19 years old or a year removed from their high school graduation. Wright is glad he entered the NBA right away, and he believes Mannion could've benefited from that route.
"Thank God I wasn't a guy that went to college, because you never know what is going to happen," Wright explained. "You go to college, and you get put in this system, and it's probably not to your strength, but when they were recruiting you, it might have been something totally different."
Just jumping to the NBA after an underwhelming season at Arizona won't make Mannion ready to compete at the highest level. He still has plenty of room to grow.
"You definitely got to develop a 3-point shot, because that's the NBA now, and if you don't have a 3 point shot, you can't play, you know?" Wright explained.
Mannion made just 32.7 percent of his 3-pointers at Arizona, but Wright thinks Mannion is in the right spot to make the leap in that regard. Learning from Warriors star Steph Curry, Mannion's former camp counselor, can only be beneficial.
"Him being able to be mentored by one of the best shooters of all time, I think he will definitely see a lot of improvement really quick," he said.
Developing a consistent 3-point shot is one step on Mannion's road to earning playing time, but the other side of the court is where he will have to prove to his coaches that he is ready to contribute now as the Warriors aspire to have an elite defense next season.
"If he just buys in, again, to the defensive side because you're coming into a team that does not need you to score buckets," Wright elaborated. "We need you to make open shots, we need you to get in the paint, and spread out to the shooters and get the ball to the guys that need the ball. I think if he locks in on the defensive end, work on his shot and develops that, I think he will be good as well."
When a player falls to the second round, there clearly is skepticism from front offices if he will ever fully realize his potential. Yet Mannion's combination of athleticism and raw skills gives him a higher ceiling than most second-round prospects, and that excites Wright the most.
"Once again, salute to [general manager and president of basketball operations] Bob Myers," Wright said. "One of the best to ever do it, and going to get a steal, I'd say, because as we said, before the season started [Mannion] was a lottery pick in the mock drafts.
"He fell, and I think he is going to prove a lot of people wrong because he's a tough kid."