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.

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Phoenix Suns

Elizabeth Hosking airs out of the superpipe during the women's finals at the Winter X Games on Satu...
Arizona Sports

Report: Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi to buy X Games

Phoenix Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi is set to take over as the new owner of the X Games, according to Sportico.
11 hours ago
Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns looks on against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at S...
Sam Graveline

Suns’ Ish Wainright embracing ‘energy guy’ role as injuries start to add up

As injuries start to pile up for the Phoenix Suns, forward Ish Wainright is staying ready for whenever his number is called.
11 hours ago
Owner Robert Sarver and general manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns look on during the NBA pres...
Kellan Olson

James Jones’ expert execution as GM of Suns earns him well-deserved extension

Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones has transformed the organization and that made him more than worthy of a contract extension.
1 day ago
JaVale McGee #00 of the Phoenix Suns dunks the ball in the second half against the Detroit Pistons ...
Kellan Olson

JaVale McGee joins Ayton, Crowder as out for Suns’ rematch vs. Jazz

The Phoenix Suns' injury report got even longer on Tuesday with the addition of backup center JaVale McGee.
1 day ago
General manager James Jones of the Phoenix Suns watches warm-ups to Game One of the Western Confere...
Jake Anderson

Phoenix Suns extend contract of general manager James Jones

The Phoenix Suns have extended the contract of general manager James Jones, the team announced on Tuesday.
1 day ago
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) looks to pass as Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest (3) defends during...
Kellan Olson

Chris Paul, Devin Booker lead Suns past shorthanded Jazz

The Suns do not want to get into the habit of needing heroics from Devin Booker and Chris Paul to win them games but they did Monday.
1 day ago
ESPN NBA mock draft has Suns selecting Arizona’s Nico Mannion