How Nico Mannion impressed Steve Kerr in Warriors' bad loss to Lakers

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Josh Schrock
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How Mannion impressed Kerr in Warriors' bad loss to Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

In all honesty, there's not much that can be taken from a 31-point shellacking like the Warriors suffered Monday night at the hands of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Steph Curry called the performance "embarrassing" and coach Steve Kerr noted he was "disappointed with his team's failure to compete with one of the NBA's elite." There was, however, one bright spot in the defeat, as rookie point guard Nico Mannion continues to show promise.

"Nico did well," Kerr told the media after the 128-97 loss. "Knocked down a couple shots in the second quarter that were important shots that kept us afloat. Really battled throughout the game. He's always going to play hard. That's the one thing with Nico, he's always going to compete and get after it defensively and I thought he did some good things."

The 20-year-old rookie scored 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting in 18 minutes in the loss. He was a minus-19 in those 18 minutes, but every Warrior who played at least seven minutes logged a negative plus-minus during the blowout loss.

Mannion found his rhythm in the G League bubble and has returned to the Warriors a more confident player than when he left.

The Arizona product is a key piece of the Warriors' young second unit with James Wiseman and Jordan Poole, whose development is key to the Warriors truly getting back to title contention once Klay Thompson returns next season.

That second unit will be under the microscope for the remainder of the season as the Warriors look to develop their vital young trio. The Wiseman-Mannion-Poole unit had a stellar showing in Sunday's win over the Utah Jazz, but they struggled against the Lakers on Monday. Like everything else this season, this unit's growth will be a process.

"Just chemistry," Mannion said about how the bench unit can improve. "Really just learning how each other play. The only way you can do that is through experience. Really just the more we play together the better we will be."

RELATED: Steph, Kerr's tutelage of young trio now key to Warriors' rebirth

Eighteen months ago, Mannion was a top recruit heading to Arizona where he was expected to star for a season before being a lottery pick. He slipped all the way to the Warriors in the second round and was happy to find himself learning daily from Curry, whose camp he attended as a teenager.

"Storybook. I think a lot of the stuff this year from my point of view has been storybook -- movie-like, I'd say," Mannion said of playing with Curry. " ... To be here, just being a backup to Steph, being around him every day, watching him and learning from him, it's a blessing honestly. In my opinion, he's the best -- one of the best, if not the best point guards to ever play. So, watching him every day and just soak up as much knowledge as possible is just a blessing."

As the Warriors' up-and-down season continues, Mannion will look to further cement himself as Curry's primary backup by stringing together quality performances and doing everything he can to learn how to be an NBA champion from No. 30.

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