PHOENIX SUNS

ESPN NBA mock draft has Suns selecting Arizona’s Nico Mannion

Feb 17, 2020, 1:40 PM | Updated: 7:36 pm
Arizona's Nico Mannion, left, drives the ball against California's Paris Austin (3) in the first ha...

Arizona's Nico Mannion, left, drives the ball against California's Paris Austin (3) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

As the Phoenix Suns’ chances of slipping into the eighth seed continue to fade and are currently the lowest they’ve been all season, eyes naturally turn towards the 2020 NBA Draft.

Considering what we know about Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones’ draft precedent of older, proven players with a certain list of intangibles, this is not the draft for him.

Of ESPN’s players going in the top-20 in their latest mock draft, only three of the selections are at least 20 years old, and none of them are juniors or seniors.

That will give us more to learn about Jones’ preferences in player acquisition, but there’s also the fact that five of ESPN’s top 10 picks are freshman ball-handlers, where Jones could look to get that extra playmaker behind Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker. Of course, if he wants to go that route.

That’s the road ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has them going down with Arizona point guard Nico Mannion 10th overall.

Mannion, 18, has underwhelmed as a Wildcat, not quite being the blazing hot offensive force that most expected. He’s averaging 13.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Noted for his scoring touch coming out of the Valley’s own Pinnacle High School, he’s shooting only 39.3% from the field and 32.0% at three-point range.

And perhaps the most discouraging element of Mannion’s game is how he doesn’t shoot much at the rim. He only takes 19.9% of his shots there, per Hoop-Math, For comparison, that number for past point guards selected in the top-10 like Ja Morant (53.1%), Trae Young (32.7%) and Collin Sexton (35.6%) is much higher.

That threat of getting into the teeth of the defense and scoring there for point guards is crucial, and Mannion might compare to someone more like Coby White (22.5%) if that’s the case, where he would need to be a plus-shooter.

Mannion’s athleticism and top speed at the next level is a question mark that also factors into him getting inside, but to be fair, that’s something we’ve seen Jones not worry about by selecting Cam Johnson and Ty Jerome.

Those points aside, Mannion is a very intelligent player when he chooses to be. Mannion’s two clearest influences are Stephen Curry and Steve Nash, and impersonating the latter is when he’s far better for the Wildcats.

While what Mannion maxes out as an athlete in is a red flag, his quick bursts are effective as a ball-handler.

And to be fair, we should not just gloss over the potential Mannion has when he tries to channel Curry, either. The technique he shows on pull-ups like this at his age is impressive.

 

Overall, Mannion does have the type of skill and IQ combination that would entice the Suns.

The wonder, however, is if the rawer elements of his game (that have already shown in college) are something the Suns would want to remain patient about. That, too, would come at a position of need where Jones is surely trying to add another ball-handler this offseason. The reported trade discussions for Detroit’s Luke Kennard line up with that.

Would Jones wait on Mannion’s game to come along, do so in a rotation spot and also to the expense of someone’s playing time like Jerome? A mix of those things would happen if the Suns went with Mannion.

Elsewhere, Arizona’s Josh Green (No. 17) and Zeke Nnaji (27th) make it three first-rounders for the Wildcats in the mock.

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns mascot "The Gorilla" on the court before NBA game against the Golden State Warrior...
Arizona Sports

Report: Phoenix Suns to play Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day

The Phoenix Suns will head to Denver to face the Nuggets on Christmas Day this upcoming season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reported. 
22 hours ago
Bill Russell, left, star of the Boston Celtics is congratulated by coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach afte...
Kevin Zimmerman

NBA retires No. 6 jerseys, to add jersey patch honoring late Bill Russell

Bill Russell's No. 6 jersey is the first to be retired across the NBA. Players will wear the patch on the shoulders this year.
4 days ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the first half of Game One of the Western Confere...
Kevin Zimmerman

ESPN’s NBA staff still mighty high on 2022-23 Phoenix Suns

If you were wondering why the Suns have attacked the offseason with tinkering, it might be time to remember the past two full seasons.
5 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles safety Marc...
Arizona Sports

Larry Fitzgerald, Pedro Gomez in 2022 Arizona Sports Hall of Fame class

Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald and late journalist Pedro Gomez are among the 2022 class entering the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
5 days ago
Kevin Durant attends "NYC Point Gods" premiere at Midnight Theatre on July 26, 2022 in New York Cit...
Dan Bickley

Kevin Durant’s exit could get messy for Nets, maybe Suns, too

By my calculations, there is only one way Durant lands in Phoenix. There must be a second act of petulance even worse than the first.
6 days ago
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket as Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns defe...
Arizona Sports

Report: Kevin Durant tells Nets owner to pick him or coach, GM

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant reportedly met with team owner Joe Tsai in London on Saturday and reiterated his trade request.
7 days ago
ESPN NBA mock draft has Suns selecting Arizona’s Nico Mannion