The LA Clippers were losers of six straight games going into Tuesday’s bout with the Dallas Mavericks. That streak was snapped after Kawhi Leonard’s 33-point and nine-rebound performance. But Leonard was not the only reason why they won. Head coach Ty Lue made some lineup and rotation adjustments that reaped benefits on the court. One adjustment, in particular, changed the energy of the team. Which begs the question, is Terance Mann the Clippers’ savior this season?
Over the past two games, the Clippers looked to have more urgency to start games. This stemmed from Lue inserting Mann into the starting lineup and replacing Reggie Jackson as the team’s starting point guard. With Jackson struggling a bit this season, Mann stepped in and gave the Clippers much-needed energy, hustle, and defense to a seemingly lifeless squad.
In his first start, Mann notched 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals. What was impressive about his performance was his patience in finding a big or cutter after he drove to the paint. One can credit Doc Rivers for making Mann play the third-string point guard in his rookie year. Or even Lue for slotting him as the backup last season following the Eric Bledsoe trade. The only criticism of Mann’s point guard play is that he sometimes leaves his feet to make a pass. He only had one turnover each game, and he is not usually the primary ball-handler with Leonard or Norman Powell on the court, so it is not as glaring.
Another improvement seen in Mann’s game is his confidence when taking three-point jumpers. There were instances in his first few seasons where he hesitated. As of late, he is catching the ball and quickly going up, looking to shoot. In the past, he did not seem like one to hunt his three-point shot. But he is trusting his work, and it is paying off, as he is shooting a decent 35% from deep this season. That number shoots up to 40% in games he starts. Pair this with his downhill attack, and the Clippers have a new weapon to showcase with the starters.
Not only is his improved shooting helping the team, but his rebounding at the guard spot is as well. The Clippers are a top-10 rebounding team in the league, but adding more size and athleticism to their backcourt will only help their cause. Especially when Mann is used in small-ball lineups. Nicolas Batum mentioned in his media availability that although the team plays no center at times, they are still big on the wings. This is another reason why the Clippers look different as of late. Lue is starting to roll out all wing lineups with Mann, Batum, Leonard, Marcus Morris, and Robert Covington. With Mann being the smallest at 6’5″, the Clippers have plenty of lengths to stagnate offenses and force bad possessions.
While Mann is a great choice to start for the rest of the season, we will need to see how it plays out. Especially once Paul George returns. One thing to look out for is how opposing teams scheme against the Clippers’ offense and perhaps make Mann score. It will be up to him to make them pay, but with the work and development that he has put in over the last few years, the Clippers should not be too worried about that.