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Clippings: The future of the Clippers backcourt

And maybe the present, too.

Milwaukee Bucks v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The roles of Terance Mann and Luke Kennard have fluctuated wildly this season. They’ve each been key reserves, spot starters, and out of the rotation completely at different points. Currently, however? They’re both key contributors to LA’s best stretch of basketball of the year.

Mann came alive in the Clippers’ win over Charlotte and hasn’t cooled off since. He’s shooting 59.6 percent on twos over the past two weeks, aided by the fact that he’s taken 48 of those looks directly at the rim, a rarity on this LA roster. Meanwhile, Kennard kept the team’s win streak alive against Atlanta and continues to step in whenever he’s called upon. He’s only made 10-of-18 2-pointers during this run, but his 70 percent shooting from 3-point range more than makes up for that.

The two 24-year-olds are supposed to be the future of the LA backcourt. But because of injury, trades, or simply their sheer will to produce now, they’re already a meaningful part of the present.

“We made a move to get Rondo, we let go like a big, key guy everybody loves, Lou Williams,” Nicolas Batum said after Monday’s win over Milwaukee. “But I think by doing that, the franchise and organization showed that they really trust those two young guys in the future. And, not in the future, but right now, Luke and T. Mann. So they have to get that chance. They have a chance to now get on the court, get playing time, and show who they are for us. So it’s been good so far.”

Good might be an understatement, though it’s still early in the process, and minutes will have to be sorted out once Paul George, Patrick Beverley, and Rajon Rondo are in the lineup. At the moment, head coach Ty Lue is just excited for Kennard to show out the way he can, and almost surprised at Mann’s confidence as he’s “matured right in front of our eyes”.

Over the past two years, before this particular stretch, the Clippers have always had a little something missing when Beverley was unavailable. That energy that he brought to the game couldn’t be replicated, no matter how much talent was on the court. Now Mann can mimic that intensity, with his boundless effort. Kennard said he tells Mann every time he steps on the court to “bring that juice” as only he can, and it has visibly changed the way the Clippers look.

The team has big tests coming up this week, starting with the second night of a back-to-back tonight and then the Nuggets, Lakers, Blazers, and Suns. The Clippers will need their whole complement of players at their best to get through that stretch. Luckily, they have faith in their youngest guys, and those two guards are believing in themselves more and more as the season goes on.

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