Could Nico Mannion Solve the Knicks' Point Guard Troubles?
My 2020 NBA Draft Profiles:
Nico Mannion is a 6'3", 190 lb freshman point guard from the University of Arizona who averaged 14 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 32.3 minutes per game. Mannion's strengths lie in his playmaking, the natural way in which he approaches the game, and his shooting - but his size limits his "ceiling" as a prospect.
Mannion is comfortable initiating the pick and roll. He's able to change his pace with ease, find a smart pass to make, or even attack the basket. Mannion's ability to change his pace is important here because of his lack of athletic burst; his utilization of wisely chosen angles and varying speeds helps make up for that. Spending some time in an NBA weight room should help him significantly with his attacking, as his current frame isn't the most optimal for contact initiation in the paint.
Mannion can play both on and off the ball, making himself quite useful as a movement shooter when not initiating the offense. He intelligently finds ways to get open shots, especially around screens due to his ability to often correctly read the defense and how he should approach the play.
When shooting off the dribble, Mannion puts his nice touch to use and is able to quickly stop and pull up before his defender has a chance to adjust - this is another way he's learned to nullify the issues guards of his size/frame typically deal with.
In transition, Mannion knows how to push the ball up the court quickly when he's on the ball - or correctly fill his lane and be open and ready to fire off a three-pointer.
On the defensive end of the court, Mannion does about all you can ask of someone his size. He's active and persistent both on and off the ball and moves laterally nicely. He'll likely only be guarding point guards and the smallest of shooting guards, - his lack of switchability being a knock against him - but he should be able to hold his own against those types of players.
Mannion is someone I think the Knicks might consider if they're making the selection they currently own in the late first round, and someone they should certainly consider if he's fallen to their second round pick.
If the Knicks do end up selecting players with either of those picks and not using them in a potential trade, I believe Mannion might not be a bad option to feature as the team's back-up point guard next season; he'd fit well in a backcourt with Frank Ntilikina if the team is able to get some shot creation from their wings/forwards in the second unit. I don't see Mannion as a multi-year starter at the point guard position, but he could certainly serve as a starter on a team loaded with wing and forward talent that is looking for someone to simply facilitate the offense and hit some shots when needed.