Thoughts on Nico Mannion, Onyeka Okongwu, and Josh Green

February 9th, 2020

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch Nico Mannion and Arizona play against Onyeka Okongwu and USC in a Pac-12 college basketball game that took place on February 6th.  It was a hard fought basketball game, as numerous prospects played well in this match, but Arizona managed to hold on to get a well-deserved victory. Here are my thoughts on how Nico Mannion, Okongwu, and others played fared, as well as how their games may stack up for the NBA.

Nico Mannion could be a likely top 10 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.  (Photo: Twitter photo/@APlayersProgram, via Arizona Sports 98.7 FM)
Arizona’s freshman point guard, Nico Mannion played very well in his team’s victory over USC. (Photo: Twitter photo/@APlayersProgram, via Arizona Sports 98.7 FM)

Arizona’s freshman point guard, Nico Mannion had a solid showing to lead his team to a win over USC. He showed off versatile scoring skills, excelled as a facilitator, and he also played fairly good defense to help his team get the victory.

Mannion did a decent job of scoring on aggressive drives to the basket. He showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders, as he would often get to the free throw line, but sometimes he would miss on off-balanced shots off the dribble.

He did a tremendous job of getting to the free throw line as he would hunt for fouls, and he drew a whopping 18 free throws, and made 12 of them in this game. He also managed to draw free throws on a cut to the hoop off the ball, and he also would get fouled when handling the ball up the floor.

He also showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team. Mannion was able to make quick threes, as he can do so off the catch or dribble, and he also showed a knack for jumping into defenders to draw fouls on them. Late in the game, he used a crafty pump fake to get a defender in the air, which enabled him to get fouled and get to the free throw line. Mannion also was able to drive left off of a screen to make a pull-up, mid-range jumper. He did seem to be streaky with his shot though, but he seemed to show good footwork and shooting touch in this game.

Also, Mannion displayed solid playmaking skills in this game. He is a patient, cerebral playmaker that passes well off the dribble, as he can find open shooters and teammates on the move to notch plenty of assists. He has very good court vision to make drop off passes off the dribble, and he also can find the open man in scramble situations to set up scores for his teammates. However, sometimes he would throw hastily thrown passes that would go astray which would lead to turnovers. Other times, he may struggle to protect the basketball. He also lost the ball another time when dribbling in the backcourt, although it seemed that the opponent got away with a foul that time, and he also committed a charging foul once on a drive in transition.

He also was able to chip in to get his fair share of boards to help his team on the glass, and he was able to get rebounds on both sides of the ball.

Mannion also played fairly good defense. He was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he did a good job of playing passing lanes to force turnovers. He also generally excelled at cutting off penetration when guarding opposing ball handlers, as he would apply heavy ball pressure, which would make it tough for them to pass or handle the basketball. He also managed to contest a three to force a miss. However, he struggled to stay in front of a drive once, which led him to commit a foul. Another time, he tried to contest a mid-range shot against a taller opponent, but his man was able to shoot over the top of him to score the basketball.

In general, Nico Mannion played well, as he had a solid all-around game in his team’s win over USC. He especially did a tremendous job of getting to the free throw line, as he had a penchant for drawing fouls upon his defenders. He is a skilled, savvy playmaker that looks to be a likely lottery pick in the 2020 draft, and he could end up being a solid player in the NBA.

Onyeka Okongwu may also be a likely top 10 pick for the 2020 NBA Draft.  (Photo: John McGillen/USC Athletics.)
USC’s freshman big man, Onyeka Okongwu had a stellar showing in his team’s loss to Arizona. (Photo: John McGillen/USC Athletics.)

USC’s freshman big man, Onyeka Okongwu also put forth a solid performance in his team’s loss to Arizona. He excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores, and he also showed off some passing, rebounding, and defensive skills in this game.

Okongwu did a good job of scoring on quick drives to the hoop. He has a very quick first move off the dribble, as he can regularly get past his man, and he changes directions well, which allowed him to score on a layup early on, and he also showed a knack for drawing free throws on aggressive moves to the basket.

He also did a fairly good job of scoring in the post. He was able to score on a smooth, turnaround jump hook after posting up off of an offensive rebound, and he also did a very good job of getting to the free throw line. Plus, he also was able to make a long two-point shot to show his range. Every once in a while, he would miss around the basket, but Okongwu generally showed very good foot speed, footwork, and shooting touch to score consistently.

He also showed a good ability to score on hustle plays. Okongwu tended to score on strong put backs, and he also ran the floor to score on a thunderous, two-handed slam on the break. He also managed to cut to the hoop to score on a powerful dunk. He did miss on a couple of put back attempts, as he didn’t always go up under control, but in this game, he grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds, and he also excelled as a finisher around the basket.

Also, Okongwu displayed decent playmaking skills. He is a good passer that can pass out of the post as well as throw sharp interior passes, and he would find the open man to set up scores for his teammates. He also managed to set a good off-ball screen that helped enable a teammate to get open to set up a scoring chance for him. He did commit one turnover though, as he had a ball poked away on a drive, as he had exposed the basketball to a defender that time.

Plus, he also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball. He was quite active at crashing the glass, especially on the offensive end, and he managed to practically rip a ball away from an opponent to get an offensive rebound on one possession. He also managed to provide his team with plenty of second chance points after grabbing numerous offensive boards for his team in this game.

In addition, Okongwu played decent defense. He did a very good job of blocking shots, as he would swat them hard to teammates to help his team protect the paint. He also managed to intercept a pass to get a steal. Plus, he also contested a mid-range shot and a shot off of a drive to force misses. Sometimes though, he had a tendency to commit touch fouls when guarding opponents off the dribble. Other times, he would get beat on moves to the hoop to allow scores.

In summary, Onyeka Okongwu played very well, as he had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Arizona. He is an athletic, skilled big man that possesses good inside scoring, rebounding, and defensive skills, and he also showed an emerging mid-range jump shot. He will still need to improve his jump shot, but even still, he is a very athletic, energetic player that could end up being drafted in the lottery this year, and he could end up being a solid player in the NBA.

Arizona's freshman swingman, Josh Green had a solid showing in his team's win over USC.  (Photo: Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star, via tucson.com.)
Arizona’s freshman swingman, Josh Green had a solid showing in his team’s win over USC. (Photo: Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star, via tucson.com.)

Arizona’s freshman swingman, Josh Green also put forth a good showing in his team’s win over USC. He made shots in a variety of ways, and he also played solid defense to help his team get the victory.

Green showed a very good ability to score on hustle plays. He runs the floor very well, as he caught a long pass to score on a high-flying dunk on the break, and he also drove quickly up the court to score on a scintillating jam in transition another time. He also managed to score on a powerful tip slam after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.   Plus, he did a good job of scoring on a baseline drive, as he drove in to score on a thunderous dunk that time.

He also displayed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers. Green was able to make a couple of open, spot-up threes off the catch, and he showed that he can make them when given ample time and space to get his shot off. However, he was quite streaky with his jump shot, as he also missed his fair share of long-range shots as well, and he also missed on a one-legged, fadeaway jumper from the mid-range on a separate play despite showing good footwork when taking that shot.

Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills. Green is an unselfish player that will find the open man to set up scores for his teammates. He also dove on the ground to help his team retain offensive possession on another play due to possessing a very good motor and presence of mind, as he was able to pass back out to a teammate to help set up a score.

He also was able to get his fair share of boards, as he would run in to get rebounds on both ends of the floor. He was able to bring the ball up off of one defensive board, and he also jumped very high to get an offensive rebound late in this contest.

Also, Green played very good defense in this game. He showed a penchant for collecting steals, as he would quickly pounce upon passes due to possessing very good length, agility, and anticipation skills, and he also managed to poke a ball away to a teammate to force another turnover. He would run in to deflect passes and poke balls away out of bounds, and he also would use his length to aptly contest threes to force misses. He also managed to force a shot clock violation another time, as he did a very good job of guarding jump shooters, and he also managed to successfully draw a charge when defending in the post. Sometimes though, he would be a bit undisciplined defensively, as he would be prone to committing touch fouls. He had a tendency to bite on pump fakes, which would lead him to commit a foul or allow a score every once in a while.

Overall, Josh Green played well as he excelled in virtually every facet of the game to help his team get the victory. He is a very athletic swingman that defends well, and he can really be a solid offensive player when he is knocking down his jump shots. On the downside, he’s been struggling to consistently knock down long-range jumpers recently, but hopefully with a solid showing in his team’s win over USC, his long-range shooting can pick back up. He is a talented player that could go in the lottery, and he could end being a solid player in the NBA.

Arizona’s freshman big man, Zeke Nnaji played fairly well, as he excelled as a scorer in his team’s win over USC. He excelled as an inside scorer and rebounder when he was on the floor, and though he struggled defensively, his ability to score and rebound helped his team in this game.

Nnaji excelled at scoring in the low post. He was able to score on a couple of dunks after being left open around the basket, and he also would use power moves to garner scores. Plus, he also showed deft footwork and shooting touch, as he used a quick shoulder fake and pump fake prior to scoring on a tough, fadeaway jumper. He also showed a knack for drawing free throws as well. Though he was able to make a long two-point shot, he struggled to consistently make mid-range jumpers, and he also missed on a couple of rolls to the rim, as he occasionally struggled to score in traffic.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Nnaji is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, as he can pass out of the post, and he also would set good screens to help get his teammates open jump shots in this game. He did commit a charging foul on a high post drive, but Nnaji generally made good passes, set good screens, and did a good job of limiting turnovers on offense.

Nnaji also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often leap up to get defensive boards, and he also boxed out his man once to get one. However, there was one play where he was blocked out by his opponent, and ended up allowing a put back score. Also, he committed a reach-in foul after an opponent got an offensive board on a separate occasion.

However, he did not play very well defensively in this game. For the positives, he will play passing lanes, as he was able to get his hands on passes to get a steal and a deflection due to possessing good length and anticipation skills to do so. He also managed to rotate to the post to help force a miss another time. On the downside, he would tend not to communicate to his teammates where the screener was going to set the screen, as this would lead his team to allow scores. He also would tend to be caught ball watching as he would not rotate in time, and his lack of focus on his man would lead him to allow opponents to score on open baskets. Other times, he would over-rotate, which would cause his team to be put in scrambling situations.

Overall, Zeke Nnaji had an adequate showing, as he did a good job of scoring and rebounding the basketball, but he will need to improve his defense. Right now, he may be a good value pick for a team in the late first round despite his defensive woes in this game, as his ability to score and rebound in the paint could help an NBA team. With his skill set, he could end up being a reliable role player at the next level.

USC’s 6-11 senior center, Nick Rakocevic had a good game in his team’s loss to Arizona. Like Nnaji, he excelled as an inside scorer and rebounder on the floor, but he struggled defensively when he was on the court.

Rakocevic did a good job of scoring in the post as well as off the dribble. He showed a penchant for scoring on turnaround jump hooks, and he also used a deft spin move to score on one once. He also set a hard off-ball screen, which enabled him to get open underneath the basket, as he then received the ball to score on a layup. He did miss on a contested jump hook and on a fadeaway jumper on other occasions, but Rakocevic generally showed good footwork and shooting touch to score on the block. On a high post drive, he managed to use a spin and a ball fake prior to scoring on a smooth layup off the glass.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.   Rakocevic was able to score on a couple of rolls to the rim, and he also caught a lob pass to score quickly in transition. Plus, he also managed to score on a strong put back after hauling in an offensive board. Also, Rakocevic hoisted up a three-point shot, but he was unable to knock it down from beyond the arc.

Also, Rakocevic was a bit turnover prone in this game. On one good play, he threw an accurate crosscourt pass to find an open shooter in order to notch an assist. However, he also was called for traveling when trying to score in the post once, and he also threw a lazy pass that was picked off another time.

Rakocevic did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up to haul numerous boards to help his team on the glass. However, there was one possession early on where a ball went off his hands on a defensive rebounding attempt as he barely leapt up off the ground in an unsuccessful effort to grab it, and he ended up allowing his opponent to score on a dunk.

He also will need to improve his defense. On one good play, he managed to successfully draw a charge when defending a high post drive. He also managed to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss on a separate occasion. On the downside, Rakocevic had trouble defending quicker players off the dribble, as he would frequently commit fouls and allow scores when guarding opponents on drives or in the post.

Overall, Nick Rakocevic had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Arizona, as he played much better on the offensive end, and was quite active on the glass in this game. He is a skilled, fairly mobile big man that can score in the post and he can handle the ball a little bit, but he will need to improve his jump shot and on-ball defense in the meantime. Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft, but if things break his way, he could potentially end up making an NBA team’s roster next season.

USC’s 6-6 redshirt senior swingman, Daniel Utomi played very well in his team’s loss to Arizona. He especially excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he has plenty of range on his shot. He also did a good job of scoring in the post, and he also was able to make a mid-range jumper from the baseline. He also played unselfishly, as he would find open teammates to set up scoring chances for them.

While he didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to get a few defensive boards in this game. He also played decent defense in this game. He will actively contest shots regardless of whether or not if he is guarding them out on the perimeter or in the post, and he will also play passing lanes. Sometimes though, he may commit touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness. Overall, Utomi is an athletic, skilled basketball player that can shoot the basketball, but on the season, he hasn’t seen as much playing time as he should receive, and hasn’t seemed to take enough shots. While he will likely need to spend some time in the G-League or overseas after his collegiate career ends, if Utomi puts the work in, he could potentially make an NBA team’s roster as an Cartier Martin type of player in the league sometime down the road.

Arizona’s 6-9 senior big man, Stone Gettings played very well in his team’s victory over USC. He excelled at making spot-up jumpers and at scoring in the post, and he possesses a soft, feathery touch that enables him to score from all over the floor. Gettings managed to score a jump hook over two defenders, and he also was able to score on a layup after turning in to score from the post another time. He also made a couple of mid-range jumpers, and he also made a three to show his range. Sometimes, he would miss shots when defended in the paint, but generally Gettings made shots very efficiently in this game.

He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills. Gettings did a good job of finding open shooters to set up scoring chances for them. However, he also threw an inaccurate entry pass that was picked off once, as that turned out to be his lone turnover of the game.

Gettings also rebounded the ball well. He was quite active at chasing down balls to help his team get numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he also tipped a ball to a teammate to help his team get a defensive rebound another time. He possesses a solid motor, as that enabled him to get plenty of rebounds in this game.

However, he will need to improve defensively. For the positives, Gettings is an active help defender that can make some plays on the ball. He was able to rotate to block a shot on a drive to himself, as he displayed good length, timing, and instincts that time. He also was able to jump on a loose ball as he dove on the ground to help his team collect a steal. He also has good strength to hold his ground when defending in the post to force misses, and he also rotated on a drive to force a miss another time. On the downside, he tended to be late on his rotations, and sometimes he would be unable to get back to his man on time, as he especially had trouble guarding shooters in this game. He also had trouble guarding quicker players, as he was prone to getting beat and to committing fouls and allowing scores as a result.

Overall, Stone Gettings is a smart, skilled big man that can score and rebound the basketball. He hasn’t been getting much draft buzz as he has been overshadowed by higher profile teammates, and hasn’t obtained nearly as much playing time as he maybe should receive this season. Still, he can knock down jumpers, and his ability to make shots could allow him to compete for a spot on an NBA team’s roster next season, as he could end up being a similar player to former Atlanta Hawks’ center, Tyler Cavanaugh in the association.