This article is a facsimile of an earlier version published on The Basketball Writers (TBW), which recently closed its doors.
Folks, please don’t tell my girlfriend, but I’ve fallen in love. It’s that unabashed, head-over-heels kind of love, that once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.
I’m in love with the game of Arizona Wildcats freshman point guard Nico Mannion.
The Wildcats have a top-15 offense, according to KenPom. Synergy’s metrics rank them higher, at sixth overall. Their ascendancy is due not just to shot-making ability but how Mannion runs the show and orchestrates the attack. It’s striking how a non-elite athlete is controlling the offense in literally every facet, especially in today’s game.
He’s got a mastery of little tricks that allow him to mask that mundane athleticism and become an elite point guard. Such a skill is one that I haven’t seen since Steve Nash. While I’m not one to frequently throw around lofty player comparisons for draft prospects and create a narrative that raises their expectations, Mannion’s physical traits and penchant for running a team while only taking a limited number of shots at the rim is eerily reminiscent of Nash’s calling card.
Perhaps I should temper expectations, but I’d rather share these similarities with you. What can I say? I’m in love.