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Terance Mann and Nicolas Batum had the sweetest moments of media day

The mentor-mentee relationship between Mann and Batum was an unexpected surprise and delight.

2021 NBA Playoffs - LA Clippers v Utah Jazz Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Terance Mann is in a pretty sweet spot as a young player on the Clippers.

He has a championship coach in Ty Lue and an opportunity to grow while contending for a title in Los Angeles. He also has a number of role models to learn from on the Clippers who play his position, namely Kawhi Leonard and Paul George; George has said that Mann reminds him of himself when he entered the league, and George remains one of the third-year Clipper’s biggest fans.

On Clippers media day, however, Mann let it be known that he actually derives substantial inspiration from Nicolas Batum. Batum isn’t a superstar like Mann surely hopes to be, but Batum has put together quite the career in terms of impact and longevity, even if some may shy away from the Batum comparison.

Batum’s stamina is what caught Mann’s attention last season. At age 32, Batum led the Clippers in minutes, while the 24-year-old Mann found himself needing breathers during the rigors of the NBA calendar. Mann shook his head in disbelief when that stat was brought up during media day and had extensive praise for Batum when asked to elaborate on his reaction.

“I’m just real fortunate, and I’m glad that I met Nic Batum so early in my career,” Mann said, “because he’s just a great example of like a guy who just works hard, doesn’t complain, is focused, will play hard every night and always wants to win, and will do whatever it takes to win. That’s me, and I just see a lot of myself in him.

“I’m just fortunate to be able to have a vet like this and just — he plays so many minutes, and I would tell him all year, like just go sit down. What are you doing? You’re making me feel old. He’s just moving like a young guy. And then after the season, we go so deep, we go to the Western Conference Finals, and he’s like I’m about to go play in the Olympics. I’m like yo, what? It’s just crazy. They do well. They get a medal. He becomes a knight over there. This guy is crazy, and I’m real fortunate to be around him so early in my career.”

For what it’s worth, it’s clearly a mutual admiration society. Batum lauded Mann’s potential, saying we’ve only seen 10 percent of what Mann can become, a tantalizing prospect considering what the young Clipper has already done in his NBA career, and on the postseason stage.

It’s exciting to think about what Mann can pick up from each of the Clippers stars, and it’s heartening that he also recognizes the value of what he can learn from Batum, whether that’s his connective passing, help defense, or even his conditioning.

The Clippers have invested heavily in their player development over the past two seasons, but that program only works if the players commit. Based on Mann and Batum’s interactions, it’s clear that they’re taking their roles in this process seriously. That bodes especially well for Mann as he continues his growth in his third season.