Our scouting report on NBA draft prospect Nico Mannion:
- Position: PG
- Height: 6-3
- Weight: 190
- School: Arizona
The pressure of the NBA won’t be foreign to red-haired, Italian-American point guard Nico Mannion.
At 15 years old, Mannion was the subject of an in-depth Sports Illustrated profile that chronicled his emerging talents and adolescence.
Now 19, Mannion declared for the draft after one season at Arizona, where he averaged 14.0 points and 5.3 assists.
Mannion’s passing might be the best part of his game. His vision, timing and touch are all advanced. He’s very good at playing fast, immediately scanning ahead once he has the ball and finding the most efficient way to push the action forward, whether that’s via the pass or dribble. Mannion is sharp in the pick-and-roll, using smart changes of pace and responding well to various defensive coverages.
He can also play off the ball and may be able to serve as both a movement shooter and secondary playmaker in some NBA lineups.
One of Mannion’s most impressive tools is his floater, which he can shoot with very deep range.
It was a somewhat disappointing freshman season for Mannion, who only shot 39.2 percent from the field, 32.7 percent from three-point range. He’s one of several young point guards in this class with subpar shooting numbers — LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton, Tyrese Maxey and Devon Dotson are among the others. Mannion does have plenty of belief in his jumper and made 79.7 percent of his free throws at Arizona. His shot definitely isn't broken, and part of the explanation for his unimpressive numbers may simply be that he had a prolonged slump after a hot start.
He rarely got to the rim and, though he’s a decent ball handler, doesn’t have the explosiveness to consistently create his own shot or attack the heart of a defense.
As a defender and a rebounder, Mannion is limited because of his unexceptional athleticism and size.
Mannion told ESPN’s Mike Schmitz that he thinks he’s a “top-10, top-7 guy.” While there’s nothing wrong with that self-confidence, he’ll almost certainly go lower because of his play in college.
If he’s available when the Sixers are on the clock, his passing and pick-and-roll skills might hold some appeal. Though the Sixers were 20th in pace this season, the team understandably likes the idea of playing fast, especially when Ben Simmons is on the floor. Mannion would easily embrace that initiative. He could also back up Simmons and occasionally play next to him.
He’s an option if the Sixers are searching for a backup point guard of the future, though it appears there are better shooters and better shot creators worth targeting.