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Terance Mann can be the hero the Clippers need and deserve right now

With injury and illness making things increasingly tight for the Clippers, Terance Mann can continue to embrace his role as a cultural architect and a mentor on and off the court.

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Clippers, NBA, Thunder
Terance Mann can thrive under the spotlight.
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“I’m in the position to do it. I feel comfortable doing it. I feel like I’ve been through enough where I can do it. I feel like I understand the ins and outs of trying to be successful or having a life where you want to be successful, and all the stuff that drives you. How to push it the right way to make things happen.”

Those were the words of Terance Mann, speaking to Law Murray of The Athletic about his mentorship programme he decided to undertake last year with two foster children considered at-risk. It shows the kind of personality that the 25-year-old has off the court, as somebody who wants to be a role model and positively influence people in the same way he has felt from others in his life. It’s that attitude that has benefitted not only himself but the Los Angeles Clippers as a whole since he was drafted in the second round back in 2019, and it’s the kind of mentality they’ll need during a difficult spell in their season.

It’s of course a tough time for most teams in the league, with unprecedented absentees as a result of the Omicron outbreak seeing record number of different players taking to the court. The Clippers feel like they’re going through a particularly rough spell right now too, the lowest point for most fans coming with the news of Paul George’s elbow injury rather than the growing list of health and safety protocol designations. In fact, the team’s injury report before their trip to Boston could’ve easily been a competent playoff roster, such is the quality of those currently out of action. That kind of adversity though, is where characters like Mann can thrive.

The roster will likely face increasing upheaval over the coming weeks, with youngsters being supplemented by short-term veteran signings like James Ennis to make up the numbers. That’s why the players who are crucial to the culture in the locker room will need to make their voices heard now more than ever. It’s that leadership role that Mann has never really seemed to shy away from and his move into charity work off the court shows as much. He also seems to be a big personality on the court if his interviews are anything to amongst a group of guys who are all happy to root for him on an individual level as much as for what he contributes to the team.

Such is his mindset and constant desire to improve, Mann will no doubt be looking at improving his box score impact as a way of helping the team during these times. In recent weeks he has seen some of his biggest loads in terms of minutes married up to some of his biggest numbers in terms of points — including consecutive 16-9-2 and 17-9-3 displays in 35-plus minutes against the Magic and Suns respectively, both games the Clippers won while missing George.

On top of the numbers, though, there are few active players who can bring the kind of energy and intensity that we as fans will need to see in order to give this team the support they need to keep their heads above water. Mann has been a guy who has come to embody the spirit this team has shown, and his display against the Jazz during last year’s playoffs will always stand out as being a sliding doors moment not only for the player himself, but also a reward for the work this team has been doing to foster that kind of mindset.

Mann will no doubt look to embrace this role as one of the cultural architects but, as with his work off the court, he’ll also want to give the kind of mentorship that the younger guys coming into the fray will need. He’s the perfect person to do that, as a youngster who never let successes get to his head in the same way he never let low moments stand in his way of progression. He’s the perfect person for us as fans, and for his teammates and his coaches to look to during this time. That may seem like a lot of pressure, but pressure makes diamonds, and this man is certainly one of them.