Monday, June 27, 2022

Former Warrior, 21-Year-Old Floor General Drawing NBA Interest: Report

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On May 11, Italian club Virtus Bologna realized one of their biggest goals for the 2021/22 season by beating Turkish club Bursaspor in the EuroCup final. As a result, the team secured a spot in the EuroLeague the next season.

Unfortunately, Golden State Warriors draftee and former two-wayer Nico Mannion – who was expected to play a key role for Virtus this season – spent most of the game watching from the bench. Mannion played the entire 42 seconds of the competition and missed his only attempted shot from the ground.

That was exactly the kind of year for the one-off McDonald’s All-American and All Pac-12 picks.

Nonetheless, a report out of Europe earlier this week indicated that Mannion continues to plot for NBA teams.

According to SDNA George Zakkas, “several teams” are watching Mannion’s situation in Bologna with a view to next season. More immediately, however, teams around the federation are said to be considering the former warrior for a spot in the summer league.

Whether or not the Dubs are one of those teams is hard to say, but Mannion definitely showed flashes of potential during his truncated run with the team. In a 10-game streak in the middle of his 2020-21 rookie campaign, he averaged 8.1 points, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steals per outing while making 44.4% of his triples.

Additionally, Golden State is a club that will no doubt look to fill its back-end roster spots cheaply as it currently has more than $171 in wages committed for just eight players for 2022-23.

However, if Mannion wants to return to the NBA with someone next season, he will have to cancel his contract with Virtus, which runs until 22-23. He also needs to show that he has put the trials and tribulations of the current season behind him.

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When Mannion made the call to take his game to Italy’s Serie A rather than stay with the Warriors, the idea was that he would get more minutes, a bigger role and a better opportunity to develop. Instead, he was plagued by one problem after another.

The 21-year-old’s debut for Virtus was delayed when he contracted an intestinal infection. The illness was so severe that he lost nearly 20 pounds and was hospitalized for several days as a result. Photos showing Mannion’s extreme weight loss later went viral.

Although he eventually returned to the pitch, Mannion has also struggled with back problems, an ankle injury and a tough battle with COVID-19. In turn, he was forced to give up playing time behind the likes of Milos Teodosic, Marco Belinelli and Daniel Hackett.

The year wasn’t all bad for Mannion, however. He averaged 19.5 points and hit 7 of 14 shots from deep in a two-game run with Team Italy during FIBA ​​World Championship qualifiers in February. And last month he scored 18 points and added seven assists to Virtus in a game against Pesaro.


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