The Steady Development of Terance Mann

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This season, the LA Clippers saw multiple role players step up in the absence of their stars. From Amir Coffey to Luke Kennard, the list goes on. But ever since his 39-point performance in the series-clinching game against the Utah Jazz, expectations have been high for Terance Mann. From a big picture perspective, his numbers do not jump out. Mann is currently averaging 10.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. However, all are career-highs. The numbers don’t tell the whole story, Mann filled multiple roles this season. And the steady development this year should not go unnoticed.

The Steady Development of Terance Mann

Following his breakout performance in game six against Utah, there were some astronomical expectations for Mann coming into the 2021-22 season. Some had him as a full-time starter, some had him averaging about 15 points a game. And some even had him as a Most Improved Player winner. Those same people may be disappointed to some extent based on this season. But Mann is having anything but a disappointing season.

Mann started the season off the bench, where he, Kennard, and Isaiah Hartenstein built solid chemistry with their multidimensional attack. Kennard’s shooting and off-ball movement combined with Mann’s aggression and cutting complimented Hartenstein’s passing ability. There were times in which the bench unit looked better than the starters offensively, and Mann was a vital proponent to it. The signs of Mann’s improvement were visible in terms of his jump shot. We saw less hesitation (though he still does at times) and more smooth jumpers off the catch. It may seem small, but those incremental improvements build upon his steady development over time.

When COVID ravaged the team and Paul George went down, Mann saw more opportunities as a starter. And it was evident that he was more comfortable as one. During his starts, Mann averaged 12.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists on 51.4% shooting and 42% from three. As his threes continued to fall, he continued to go to his mid-range game and score off the bounce. There were times in which he shot one-legged fadeaways that were not the best shots. But nonetheless, his confidence was rising. Perhaps the most notable game from this stretch was the New Year’s Day bout in Brooklyn. Coming off a back-to-back, the Clippers came back in the third and Mann had 19 points, including the game-clinching shot in the corner.

Fast forward to the present day and Mann is getting more reps as the backup point guard. With more opportunities to have the ball in his hands, his steady development gradually improved. He’s getting more reps to work the pick and roll, leading to some nice reads. While he is no maestro yet, the more opportunities he gets to work the pick and roll, the more improvement we will see. Mann is already a good cutter and improved three-point shooter. With more consistency in his mid-range and reads in the pick and roll, he can become a very good point guard in this league.

What makes Mann special is that he can play multiple positions. Head coach Ty Lue said that he plays all positions, essentially playing “the six”, meaning he does one through five. Evidently, Mann has played most games this season as a wing. But he is now playing more of a point guard role but will move around depending on who is on the court. Mann is not a perfect player. There were times where he hesitated on threes and other times where he tries to work the pick and roll but just ends up dribbling out. Additionally, his awareness as a point guard needs to improve, whether it be knowing the shot clock or knowing what the defense’s scheme is.

The beauty of Mann’s game is that you can’t put him in a box, because he can slot into multiple boxes. He’s only in his third year and has seen improvement each season. The more reps he gets, the better for the stars when (or if) they return. And maybe, just maybe, we will hear less of the Clippers needing a point guard.

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