Evaluating N’Faly Dante, Nico Mannion, and Payton Pritchard

January 12th, 2020

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Nico Mannion and Arizona square off against N’Faly Dante and Oregon in a Pac-12 basketball game that took place on January 9th, as I was able to see this via WatchESPN. It was a very competitive, hard fought basketball game that went into overtime. Nico Mannion played very well in the 1st half, and Arizona seemed to have the upper hand early on, but Oregon kept clawing their way back, as the Oregon Ducks ended up getting the win in overtime. Here are my thoughts on how Mannion, Dante, and other various prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Oregon's freshman center, N'Faly Dante played very well in his team's overtime win over Arizona.  (Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images, via Busting Brackets.)
Oregon’s freshman center, N’Faly Dante played very well in his team’s overtime win over Arizona. (Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images, via Busting Brackets.)

Oregon’s 6-11 freshman center, N’Faly Dante had a solid showing in his team’s win over Arizona. He excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker in this game, and though he also ended up in foul trouble, he played very well when he was on the floor.

Dante excelled at finishing plays around the basket to get scores for his team. He did a good job of scoring in the post, as he was able to use a pump fake and dribbled in to score off the glass, and he also threw down a couple of powerful dunks to get other scores. Also, Dante managed to get deep position to score on a jump hook another time.

Plus, he also managed to score on a quick cut to the hoop, as he showed a good ability to move off the ball. He did run the floor to get the ball as a trailer in transition early on, but he ended up missing that time on a wild layup attempt from a little too far out.

Also, Dante was able to set a good on-ball screen that helped get his teammate an open driving lane to score once. However, he also had a ball poked away just as he was about to go up for a shot in the post, which led him to turn the ball over on that possession.

Adding to that, Dante a decent job of rebounding the basketball. He was active in crashing the glass to help his team collect boards, especially on the defensive end, but he also was called for an over the back foul when going for an offensive board once.

Dante also played adequate defense. He did a good job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint, as he has good length, athleticism, and timing to do so. He will actively contest shots in the post as well as off of drives. However, he also tended to commit fouls when guarding opposing ball handlers due to over-aggressiveness. There also was one play where he was late to get back on defense, which led his team to allow a score in transition.

In summary, N’Faly Dante played very well to help lift his team to a stunning victory in overtime. Dante is an athletic, high-motor big man that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor. Right now, he could be a good value pick for a team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft, as he could project to be a solid role player in the NBA.

Arizona's freshman point guard, Nico Mannion started off playing very well, but he had an uneven performance overall in his team's overtime loss to Oregon.  (Photo: Soobum Im/USA Today Images 2020, via Arizona Maven.)
Arizona’s freshman point guard, Nico Mannion started off playing very well, but he had an uneven performance overall in his team’s overtime loss to Oregon. (Photo: Soobum Im/USA Today Images 2020, via Arizona Maven.)

Arizona’s freshman point guard, Nico Mannion had some good moments in his team’s loss to Oregon, but he turned in an uneven performance as he struggled to make jumpers and with turnovers as the game wore on.

Mannion did a very good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket. He can use either hand to garner scores, and he showed a knack for making floaters, especially early in this game. He also used a quick pump fake to score off the glass while getting an extra free throw another time. He did miss on a couple of runners late in this game as he would take some tough shots, but generally he showed a solid first step, quickness, and shooting touch to get numerous scores off the dribble.

However, Mannion struggled to knock down jumpers consistently, as he especially struggled to make three-point shots against Oregon. He did a good job of making pull-up mid-range jumpers, as he was able to make a long two, and he also made a nifty, one-legged, pull-up jumper from around the left elbow later on, as he is a skilled player that excels at scoring off the dribble. Though he made a nice pull-up three late in overtime, he tended to miss pull-up threes when he would hoist them up from beyond the arc.

He also was quite turnover prone on offense. For the positives, Mannion is an unselfish player that can find teammates off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them, and he is a savvy playmaker that possesses good court vision. However, he also tended to telegraph his passes at times, which would lead them to get intercepted, and another time, his teammates wouldn’t come back to the basketball when he would throw an inbounds pass. He also had a ball poked away when trying to pass off the dribble, and he threw a catchable pass that was dropped late in overtime.

Though Mannion didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to chase down several defensive boards to help his team crash the glass, as he would sometimes push the ball up the floor afterwards.

On the other hand, he struggled defensively, especially late in this contest. For the positives, he would actively contest three-point shots to force misses. He also was able to run down an errantly thrown pass to get a steal, as he quickly turned that into fast break points. However, he tended to get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to allow scores. He also was prone to fouling off of drives, as one was because he was not fully set when attempting to take a charge, and he also committed a reach-in foul in overtime. Also, there was one play where he was late to rotate to a shooter, as he allowed a taller player to score on a three-point shot that time.

Overall, Nico Mannion had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Oregon. He had some very good moments, but he also made plenty of mistakes down the stretch. Right now, he projects to be a player that could go in the lottery, but there may be some concerns about his athleticism, ability to make jumpers consistently, and his defense. Regardless, he is a smart, skilled playmaker that has what it takes to end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Oregon's senior point guard, Payton Pritchard had a solid game, as he and his team gritted out a tough win to defeat Arizona in overtime.  (Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images, via Bleacher Report.)
Oregon’s senior point guard, Payton Pritchard had a solid game, as he and his team gritted out a tough win to defeat Arizona in overtime. (Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images, via Bleacher Report.)

Oregon’s senior point guard, Payton Pritchard played fairly well in his team’s overtime victory over Arizona. He made big shots down the stretch, and he played very good defense when he was on the floor.

Pritchard did a good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket. He has a surprisingly good first step to the hoop, and he can get past his man to score on smooth layups. He also showed a knack for drawing fouls on his defenders when he would take it to the rim. Sometimes though, he would struggle to score in traffic, as he also had his shot blocked once on a drive in transition.

He also did a good job of scoring in the post, as he made a clutch, fadeaway jumper down the stretch. Pritchard also made several threes, as he made a couple of pull-up threes, and he also ran quickly off of a ball screen to make one from way out. However, he struggled to make jumpers consistently, as he missed too many jump shots from outside of the paint area.

Pritchard also displayed decent playmaking skills in this game. He can aptly kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scores for them, and he also drove past his man to throw a lob pass to help his teammate score on an alley-oop dunk on a separate play. However, he also committed a slew of turnovers, as he committed a couple of careless ball handling turnovers, and he also threw a couple of inaccurate passes that went astray.

Also, Pritchard did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often chase down balls to help his team get boards on both ends of the floor, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court afterwards.

Plus, Pritchard also played solid defense. He did a great job of collecting steals, as he can intercept passes and poke balls away to do so. He also possesses good lateral footwork to stay in front of opposing ball handlers, and he will actively contest jumpers to force misses. However, sometimes he can be too aggressive when guarding his man, which can lead him to foul opposing ball handlers when applying ball pressure.

In general, Payton Pritchard had a good game in his team’s overtime win over Arizona. He tended to make smart plays when he was on the floor, and he showed solid athleticism, the ability to score off the dribble, and he also excelled at making plays throughout this contest. Right now, he looks to be a second round prospect, as he could end up being a backup point guard in the NBA.

Arizona’s freshman swingman, Josh Green also played well in his team’s overtime loss to Oregon. He excelled at making shots throughout this match, as he made a variety of them to show his versatility, and he played a solid all-around game on this day.

Josh Green did a good job of knocking down open corner threes off the catch to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. Green also showed some deft low post scoring skills, as he also used a spin move to score on a fadeaway, turnaround jumper due to possessing good footwork, strength, and shooting touch to do so.

Plus, he excelled at scoring on strong drives to the hoop, as he can finish plays with either hand, and he has great body control to finish plays at the rim to garner scores. He did miss on a wild put back once after grabbing an offensive rebound, but Green overall did a terrific job of making shots from all over the floor.

Green showed off fairly average playmaking skills in this game. He is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man to set up scores for his teammates, and he also caught a long pass and threw a nice touch pass to help set up a score for a teammate in transition. However, he can struggle to protect the basketball, and he also can throw hasty passes. Late in this contest, he chose to throw an inbounds pass to Nnaji in the corner rather than choose to throw it out to other teammates that had more space to catch the ball, but his pass was slightly off-target, and Nnaji nearly got his pass intercepted as a result.

Green also was able to chip in to help his team on the glass, as he was able to haul in multiple boards on both sides of the ball. He also played above average defense. He showed a decent ability to poke balls away to nearly get steals, and he also quickly ran in to intercept a pass to get a big steal in overtime, which enabled him to score in transition afterwards. Green is a rangy, help defender that can cover a lot of ground, and he can get plenty of steals for his team. However, he also tended to commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness. He also sagged too far off his man once, as his team allowed a three-point basket to an opponent. Another time, he got beat off the dribble on a quick spin move, which lead his team to allow another score that time.

Overall, Josh Green played a solid all-around game in his team’s loss to Oregon. He is an athletic, skilled swingman that could get picked in the lottery of the 2020 draft, and he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Oregon’s sophomore guard, Will Richardson played very well in his team’s overtime win over Arizona. He had a solid all-around game, as he made very good plays on both sides of the ball, and he made clutch plays down the stretch to help his secure the victory, as he scored on a spin move on a drive, and blocked a big shot late in overtime.

Richardson did a decent job of getting scores off the dribble. He is an athletic combo guard that has a good first step to the hoop and possesses an array of dribble moves, and he has good body control that would allow him to regularly get scores and free throws around the basket. He used a spin move to score on a fadeaway jumper, and he also managed to score on an up and under move another time.   Sometimes though, he would miss on floaters in traffic, but Richardson generally excelled at making tough shots in this game.

He also did a good job of making open, spot-up threes off the catch to provide floor spacing for his team.

Also, he displayed solid playmaking skills. Richardson threw crisp interior passes, as he can find teammates on the move, and he also can draw multiple defenders when driving to the hoop, which enables him to find the open man. He also does a very good job of finding open shooters. He only committed one turnover, and on that occasion, he threw a loopy crosscourt pass that ended up getting picked off.

Plus, he also was able to haul in his fair share of boards to help his team on the floor. Richardson also played fairly solid defense. He was able to run back to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he also jumped on a loose ball to help his team collect another. Plus, he also stayed in front of an opposing ball handler, as he then managed to swat a shot hard off of a drive out of bounds. Every once in a while, he can be out of position, which can lead him to commit a foul on occasion.

Overall, Will Richardson had a solid showing to help get his team the win, and he is an athletic, skilled combo guard that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor. Richardson is a talented, unheralded prospect that can do a lot of different things on the floor to help his team get victories, and he could be a good find for an NBA team whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Arizona’s freshman center, Zeke Nnaji also put forth a fairly good performance in his team’s loss to Oregon. He rebounded and defended well, and he showed a fairly solid ability to score around the basket.

Nnaji showed an adequate ability to score in the post. He excelled at drawing fouls upon his defenders when looking to score on the block, and he also managed to get free throws once on an up and under move. He also can score on hustle plays, as he can move off the ball to garner scores, and he also excelled at getting to the foul line. Sometimes though, he would miss shots around the basket, and he also had a couple of shots blocked in the paint.

He also managed to make an open long two-point shot off of a pick and pop play. However, he had trouble making mid-range jumpers consistently in this game.

Also, Nnaji displayed adequate playmaking skills in this game. He can pass out of the post, and he also can throw accurate interior passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He also set a good on-ball screen that enabled his teammate to get open on a jump shot another time. He did throw a hasty pass after catching the ball in a corner that nearly got intercepted, but his opponent stepped out of bounds late in this contest.

Nnaji did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often leap up to get numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he also can get rebounds in traffic due to possessing good athleticism, motor, and instincts. However, he also committed a foul on a put back late in the first half. On a separate play, he was unable to get a key rebound, as he was beat to the ball late in overtime, which allowed his opponent to get the board that time.

Plus, Nnaji also played decent defense. He made good rotations to block shots off of drives, and he also will actively contest jumpers to force misses. He also managed to get his hands on a pass to collect a steal. He possesses good length, size, and positioning, as this enabled him to get plenty of stops for his team. However, he had some trouble guarding opponents off the dribble, which allowed him to commit fouls and allow scores. On a separate play, he was caught ball watching as he lost track of his man and allowed him to score on an alley-oop dunk.

Overall, Zeke Nnaji had an adequate showing in his team’s loss to Oregon. He showed a decent ability to score around the basket, rebound, and block shots. Though he had his shots blocked several times, Nnaji did a very good job of getting to the free throw line. Right now, he is an athletic, energetic big man that could project to go in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft, and he could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Oregon’s 6-6 junior guard, Chris Duarte had a good game to help lead his team to an overtime victory over Arizona. Duarte showed a decent ability to score on drives as well as in transition, and he also used a Euro-step move to score on a drive in transition once. He showed a good ability to draw fouls on defenders, and he also pulled up to make a mid-range jumper from the baseline. Plus, he also managed to dribble in to score on a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound. He did miss on a couple of floaters, but Duarte generally did a good job of getting scores off the dribble.

He did make an open corner three from beyond the arc on one play, but he missed on two other three-point attempts, but he did show an adequate ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team.

Plus, he also displayed solid playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that throws accurate interior passes, and Duarte also pushed the ball up the floor and then kicked the ball out to a shooter to set up a score in transition. Sometimes though, he can be inaccurate on his passes, and he also can get the ball poked away, which can lead him to commit turnovers.

Also, Duarte did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He showed a knack for chasing down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes push the ball up the court afterwards. Defensively, he looked to be about average. Duarte was able to jump a pass quickly to get a steal, and he also ran down a ball stemming from an inaccurate pass to collect another. However, he can sometimes struggle to guard opponents off the dribble, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Also, there was another play where he didn’t tell his teammate that the screener was coming, as his team allowed a three-point basket that time.

Overall, Duarte had a solid showing to help lead his team to a win over Arizona. He is a good, all-around player that especially excelled as a scorer and facilitator in this game, and he is a skilled, versatile player that could be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.

Oregon’s senior forward, Shakur Juiston did not play very well from an individual standpoint, but he made a lot of solid team plays on the defensive end to help his team get stops.  On offense, he missed all three of his field goals, and he struggled to score off the dribble or around the basket, but he did show a willingness to pass and move the basketball on offense.

He also leaped up to get his fair share of boards to help his team get rebounds. Juiston played very good defense, as he did an excellent job of running to intercept passes to get steals, and he also found a loose ball that was dropped to collect another. Juiston also made good rotations, as he would roam to block shots when defending in the post, and he would actively contest shots to force misses. Sometimes, he would be too aggressive on the defensive end, as he committed a foul when defending in the post once, and he also bit on a pump fake that led his team to allow a three-point basket another time.

In summary, Shakur Juiston did not have his best game, but he still defended very well, as he is an athletic, rangy defender that could project to be a defensive specialist at the next level. Right now, he will need to improve his jump shot and be a more skilled player on offense, but he may have what it takes to make an NBA team’s roster in the association.

Arizona’s senior guard, Dylan Smith did a very good job of knocking down three-point shots, as he can do so off the catch or dribble, and he has a lot of range on his shot. He also used a pump fake to score on a floater off of a drive to the basket. However, he struggled to consistently make shots when he would look to score inside the arc, and he also would sometimes force up tough shots in traffic that would lead to misses.

Smith was also quite turnover prone in this game. He had a tendency to lose the basketball at times, and he also would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray. On the plus, he did a decent job of passing off the dribble, as he can throw accurate interior passes and he can also find teammates on the break to set up scoring chances for them.

Smith also was able to leap up to get several defensive rebounds when he was on the floor. Defensively, he looked to be about average. He would actively contest threes as well as shots off of drives to force some misses. However, he was quite foul prone in this game, as he had trouble staying in front of quicker players in this game.

Overall, Dylan Smith had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Oregon, but he excelled at knocking threes to provide floor spacing for his team. He will need to be a more consistent performer in games and improve his on-ball defense, but he is an athletic, skilled combo guard that could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA.