When Golden State Warriors draftee and two-way player Nico Mannion decided to forgo NBA money and take his game overseas, the move actually made a lot of sense. Despite showing flashes of the potential that once had him in the lottery conversation, minutes were scarce during his rookie campaign on the Bay.
By signing with Virtus Bologna last August, he was giving himself a chance to get regular playing time in a key role for one of Europe’s top up-and-coming clubs. In theory, that meant a chance to develop more as a player and the potential for more money and a better opportunity down the road.
Alas, for reasons completely beyond his control, Mannion’s year abroad has been an unmitigated disaster.
Over the weekend, though, the former Arizona Wildcats standout and All Pac-12 pick finally looked like the player he, and many others, thought he was going to be when he boarded the plane for his native Italy.
Mannion Breaks Out
With Bologna facing Pesaro over the weekend, Mannion came out of nowhere with his best performance of the season. The 21-year-old played 20 minutes off the bench in the contest, scoring 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, nailing four triples and adding seven assists and a steal.
For frame of reference, it was only the fourth time this season — across all competitions — that Mannion had hit double figures as a scorer. Moreover, he was less than a week removed from logging a DNP-CD against Serie A’s No. 2 club, Milano.
Given the year he has had, it was an important performance for the former Warriors prospect.
His big debut with Virtus was significantly delayed in the fall when he contracted a severe intestinal infection. It was an illness that required a multi-day hospital stay and one that also resulted in him losing nearly 20 pounds. Photos depicting the extreme weight loss later went viral.
From there, Mannion battled back problems, an ankle injury and the requisite bout with COVID-19. Consequently, he has been forced to scrape for playing time on a roster featuring the likes of Milos Teodosic, Marco Belinelli and Daniel Hackett in the backcourt.
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Iggy Likely a Go for Game 3
It had been widely expected that Andre Iguodala would assume a larger on-court role for the Warriors with the team’s title quest in full effect. However, a collision with Nuggets star Nikola Jokic during Game 1 of Golden State’s first-round series put him out of commission for Game 2 with neck soreness.
Given the way in which injuries hampered him during the regular season, there was a high level of concern about his status going forward. Thankfully, it appears as though the 38-year-old is no worse for wear.
As relayed by The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Dubs coach Steve Kerr has indicated that Iguodala is probable to play when the series shifts to the Mile High City for Game 3. Iguodala saw 13 minutes of action in the series opener, logging four assists, two rebounds and a blocked shot.