Phoenix Suns NBA Draft: Why Nico Mannion is worth taking at No. 10

Nico Mannion Phoenix Suns (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Nico Mannion Phoenix Suns (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns NBA Draft
Phoenix Suns NBA Draft (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns NBA Draft: Nico Mannion’s negative wingspan

Unfortunately, Nico Mannion has no control over his wingspan. It’s actually a half-inch shorter than his 6-3 frame. Defensively, this will obviously hurt him. Not everyone can have Inspector Gadget arms like Mikal Bridges.

Mannion will be targeted by opposing NBA offenses on day one until he proves he’s a good defender. He has to increase his leg and core strength in order to defend bigger players. Teams will target him in pick-and-roll situations.

He’ll have to make up for his lack of length and top-flight speed with his defensive acumen. Mannion averaged 1.5 steals per game in college, his penchant for playing the passing lanes is underrated. That may translate to the next level if Mannion can refine his help defense.

Can he become a plus defender in the NBA? Who knows? But, at the very least, he cannot become a defensive liability, especially for the Suns.

Especially because head coach Monty Williams has always been defensive-minded in his approach. His main defensive goal going into the season was to protect the paint. The Suns have a way to go in keeping teams out of the lane, ranking 20th in how often opposing offenses would shoot within 6 feet.

Ricky Rubio, the incumbent point guard, is not why they struggle to stay in front of opposing players. Rubio has always been a strong on-ball and help defender. Mannion’s lack of wingspan makes it difficult for him to replicate Rubio’s prowess. He has to use every last bit of his defensive acumen to keep opposing point guards out of the lane.

If he can do this, his lack of wingspan will not be a concern.