Warriors Alum, Former Blue-Chipper Battling to Get Back Onto NBA Radar

Nico Mannion

Getty Nico Mannion is defended by Dante Exum during an Olympic basketball bout between Italy and Australia.

During his abbreviated run with the Golden State Warriors back in 2020-21, point guard Nico Mannion showed signs that he could one day be a night-in, night-out floor general for an NBA team. Over a 10-game stretch around mid-season, he averaged 8.1 points, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steals while sinking 44.4% of his triples.

Considering his former status as a would-be lottery pick, however, it wasn’t exactly shocking that the Arizona product had the ability to ball.

So, when Mannion made the decision to take his talents to Italy the following year, there was hope that he’d return sooner than later as a player ready for a bigger opportunity. Instead, he found himself running a gauntlet that included a scary intestinal issue, hospital stays, injuries and a bout with Covid.

Flash forward to now, though, and after a trying 2021-22 campaign, the ex-Warrior looks to be playing his way back onto the NBA radar.

Nico Mannion Has Played a Larger Role for Virtus Bologna

Mannion was more or less an afterthought in his first year with Virtus. All told, the baller was able to play in 43 games across all competitions for the team, but he averaged just 13.6 minutes a night. And when he was on the floor, he was a sub-40% shooter and just a 5.3 PPG scorer.

It wasn’t at all uncommon to see him scratched from big games entirely by head coach Sergio Scariolo.

This season, however, Mannion has spent a lot more time running the point for Virtus, taking over the starting role that was largely controlled by former LA Clippers guard and Euro legend Milos Teodosic last year. Entering Sunday’s bout with Tortona, he had started in six of Virtus’ previous seven games.

Consequently, he’s putting up 10.6 points and 3.5 assists per outing with shooting splits of 48-39-82 in domestic competition. His EuroLeague performance has sagged behind in some respects — and he still needs to establish a level of consistency overall — but major strides are clearly being made.

Mannion Reflects on the Long & Winding Road Back

Back in October, Mannion reflected on his hellacious ’21-22 season during an interview with BasketNews‘ Donatas Urbonas. And it was clearly an experience that took a toll on him.

“It’s not like injury when you know you’ll be back in four months. There was no guidebook. No rules on how to get back to 100% healthy. It was day by day process. Very frustrating at times,” Mannion said.

“We had a loaded backcourt. And it wasn’t like I was just stepping in minutes and could help when I could play. It was two different battles going on. Me trying to find myself and get back to who I was, and me trying to work my way to the lineup and find minutes where I could.”

Thankfully, he had some help in rediscovering himself. Like Stephen Curry and Co. did during Mannion’s time in the Bay, Teodosic took the baller under his wing.

“Last year was rough for me, and he was always helping me out, giving me little pointers. We had dinner a couple of times where we just talked about life. And things like that aren’t seen a lot of time from teammates.”

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