Terance Mann: Through the Wreckage of Clippers Prospects
Many teams around the league always find a diamond in the rough when drafting and developing young players. Sometimes it’s a Division II point guard who’s built like a fridge and defends like hell. Or maybe the team nabs itself a long-limbed wing who has all that tools but needs the right direction. When it comes to contending teams, it’s necessary to find these guys to help fill in bench roles to relieve some of the stress put on your starters throughout the regular season. The Lakers last year had guys like Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma fill in specific roles well enough throughout the year. The Dynasty Warriors were able to get help from guys like Kevon Looney and Patrick McCaw (when he was serviceable) for whatever minutes they needed to be filled. And while it may not matter much when it comes to the playoffs, you still want to allow your roster as much flexibility as possible throughout a grueling regular season.
It’s been quite rough for the Clippers in terms of finding something in that barrel of unknown prospects that comes when you’re not drafting in the lottery year after year. The Clippers have rarely been bad the past decade, which is pretty hilarious considering what they were before. And the one year they did draft in the lottery, they got a mesmerizing young Point Guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The team would then flip him for Paul George in a blockbuster trade that was followed by signing Kawhi Leonard. This would catapult the team into immediate contention while draining a lot of their draft capital. It’s a move most teams would be willing to make 10 times out of 10. But the Clippers have really struggled to find any semblance of those young prospects to help put the pressure off of the star, starters, and vets. Jerome Robinson was the 13th pick in 2018, and never found a niche he could fill on the team. Robinson has since been traded and subsequently cut by the Wizards. Mfiondu Kabengele wasn’t really showing any signs of being a considerable prospect. Amir Coffey has had his moments, but nothing has really materialized. If you want to dig even deeper in the prospect bag, Jonathan Motley is playing in Korea now.
It may not be the end of the world for a team like the Clippers that these guys haven’t worked out. But to the fanbase, it can be frustrating that none of these guys have turned into even a functional NBA player. Especially considering that the Clippers make sure to give their horses days off and minutes will be available for young guys to get run. Instead, they’ve asked a lot out of the older vets on the team. But there’s one guy who has made it through the fire that is the Clippers development system. One man - or should I say Mann - to rule them all. Terance Mann has come in and forged his path to being a young contributor that allows roster flexibility throughout a strenuous NBA season.
It wasn’t a quick integration for a player like Mann in his first season last year. It was understandable considering that the team never knew quite who would play on a game-to-game basis. He could never quite get a handle on what he wanted to be. The team themselves never really got a clear look and stuck with the more vet-savvy guys like JaMychal Green or Marcus Morris. However, Mann bided his time and soaked as much as could from all the wings as they coached him up on the bench. Coming into this season, he would continue to be that sponge and waited for his opportunities to show the team that he was worth a shot. He wanted to show them he wasn’t just another young guy who they swung and missed on harder than a Pitcher trying to hit off of Jacob DeGrom.
Even when he played at Florida State, he always felt like he had a chip on his shoulder. At Florida State, he had to wait his turn there as well, behind some talented players in Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon. He only averaged 5.2 points in 17 minutes a game. Terance never got too into his own head and worked his way up. Over the course of the next 3 seasons, his minutes would go all the way to 31 a night while improving his scoring and raising his 3 point percentage from 30% his Freshman year up to 39% by the time he left for the NBA. It was more than just about scoring for Mann but about everywhere else where he contributed. It’s how he earned the nickname “Stat Stuffer” from his FSU coach Leonard Hamilton. In a way, Mann was the Nicolas Batum of those FSU teams. He was the connecter that helped the team function as a whole.
It’s only appropriate that Batum would be the guy talking to him and letting him know that he didn’t need to be Paul George or Kawhi Leonard. Teaching Mann that excelling as a cog was all the team needed from him. Now you see him showcasing all that knowledge he took in. Mann doesn’t hesitate when he catches the ball like he did last season. He’s making the quick read of shoot, drive, or kick as soon as the ball finds its way to him. Ty Lue won’t keep you out on the floor if you’re clogging up what the team’s trying to do on a nightly basis.
Terance has gotten fairly good at attacking the closeouts that come when you run an offense like the Clippers. The attention garnered by guys like Kawhi allows Mann to use his athleticism and quickness on defenders when they’re back on their heels.
Mann has shown some excellent finishing to the tune of 71% in the restricted area, which is 2nd on the team among wings and 3rd overall only behind Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard.
As mentioned before, Mann has incorporated plenty of Batum-like qualities. The slot cuts and diagonal maneuvers he uses have led to beautiful results. Activity is an important NBA quality if you can use it as well as Mann has learned how to.
A good handful of Mann’s current bag (aka Mann Bagg) would not be possible if his handle weren’t also much improved. Much like his current teammate Paul George, who had trouble handling the ball early in his career. Moves like the one below would not have been possible last year if not for this, along with the confidence he continues to show every game.
Imagine telling a Clipper fan that the Terance they saw last season would do anything close to this. Not to mention his 40% shooting from 3 that includes 44% from the corners. The defense was something the team knew would get better, and it certainly has. Mann still has some lapses here and there, but he’s still young, and those are understandable. Those missteps are few and far between to where you don’t really notice them. He’ll keep working on it because that’s all he’s known throughout his playing career.
It’s been Prospect Hell for the Clippers throwing at the wall to see what sticks. They’ve shot nothing but blanks until the right Mann came along. They’ve found their long, athletic, active, and young wing in Terance that can be plugged into whatever type of game the team wants to play. The Clippers finally swung and hit on a young prospect; Mann isn’t a home run, but the team only needs him to continue being an opposite-field single with runners in scoring position.