It’s still tough to get a gauge on exactly where the Los Angeles Clippers are at right now. Though the obvious answer would be something along the lines of “just above .500” or “the seventh seed”, neither of those placings really tell the full story.
Because to some fans, this is still a rag-tag team that has started the season off looking void of some of the qualities that have made their identity so strong under Tyronn Lue. To others, it’s a squad suffering from some off-court issues – mainly that their star is still off of said court – but they are slowly figuring it out, having won six of their last eight games.
However, you’d have to be pretty hard-headed to not have some questions about the current direction. There is still a lot to figure out minutes-wise, and while that was always going to pose some headaches for Coach Lue, there are still too many moving parts that if left to linger could become bigger problems.
Robert Covington is one of those who has suffered from this recently, even if he is encouraged by seeing over 18 minutes of action in the most recent win over the Houston Rockets. RoCo, though, should also be inspired by the short-term progress of Terance Mann.
Mann similarly went through a spell where his time on the floor was limited, but in recent games he has been a crucial cog on both ends of the floor for the Clippers. In the early stages, it appeared that the coaching staff were still trying to figure out quite what the 26-year-old’s role would be for the season, but they have more answers to that question now.
Listening to the latest Clipset Podcast, one of the standout topics to me was around Mann taking up a similar role to that of Patrick Beverley or even Patrick Patterson. Those may seem like juxtaposed players to try and find a blend between, but what Pat Bev did well was bring a real energy to the team at crucial moments by executing a big defensive play or finding the right moment to hit a big shot.
Pat Pat similarly was known to his teammates as “just add water”, because no matter what you were running on any given night, you could bring him into the ball game and get a tune out of him on either end of the floor.
None of that will be alien to Mann because, not only has he fulfilled that job for the Clippers on more than a number of occasions in recent years, but he also played with both of those guys and has cited both Beverley and Patterson as being role models already. However, he may just need to channel their spirit even more this season, with the additional depth that the front office have been building up over time.
Whether it’s a stopper for point guards, a thorn in the side of the opposing center, a corner-three hitter or an offensive rebound poacher in the paint, Mann has and can do it all – no less on Monday night in the Toyota Center. With the coaching staff still trialing all manner of lineups, it could be that he has either a mix of all those flavors or a more specific role throughout different matchups. Whatever it is that he’s asked to do, energy, intensity, timing and patience will be crucial to another successful season.