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Terance Mann’s growth will be crucial for the Clippers

The youngster will look to take off in his fourth NBA season.

Los Angeles Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Imagine this: a 24-year-old exploding for 39 points to clinch a 51-year-old team’s first ticket to the Western Conference Finals. Even better, this team played without its best player and was down by as many as 25 points. Electric.

Well, this is the story of the Los Angeles Clippers and the ‘Mann’ behind the 39 points: Terance Mann.

Drafted as the 48th pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Mann wasn’t expected to be an integral part of the team. Naturally, the team’s needs gravitated towards the Clippers’ one-two punch of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, so Mann was limited to just under 9 minutes per game.

In his second season, the Florida State graduate slowly became Tyronn Lue’s Swiss Army Knife. He did it all: sinking catch-and-shoot 3s, emphatically dunking on people, and grabbing boards left and right.

But his true potential revealed itself in the final games of the Clippers’ 2020-21 campaign. With Leonard out due to a right knee injury, Lue turned to Mann to fill up Leonard’s big shoes and step up. And he did.

We’ve seen then who Mann can be for this organization — an electrifying juggernaut on both ends of the floor. Now we wonder who he will be in a high-stakes season that lies ahead for the 213.

What is the best case scenario for their season?

Mann’s career has been in an upward trajectory ever since he stepped foot on an NBA court; now, it’s his time to take it to the next level.

Building off last season, the third-year Clipper will look to be playing 25+ minutes each game. Just as important, expect Mann to suit up for most, if not all, of the games next season — he played 81 games last season (most on team).

As he grows into his 6-foot-5 frame, Mann will be an even bigger burden on defense, especially considering his propensity to muscle his way into the paint.

He can work on one thing, though: his 3-point shot. Comparing his third season with his sophomore year, he’s taking more threes but at a less efficient rate. If he can knock down 3s as well as he did then — 42% — he will be much scarier of a weapon for the Clippers.

What is the worst-case outcome?

The Clippers have one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the league. This means two things: Los Angeles a variety of options that can cater to Lue’s needs, whether that’d be going small or keeping a more traditional lineup; on the flip side, it also means the players might get lost in the competition for minutes.

Mann’s competition includes players like Amir Coffey, Brandon Boston Jr., Luke Kennard, Robert Covington, and Norman Powell. All players that proved capable of producing for the Clippers when needed.

In late January and early February of last season, Mann found himself struggling to make an impact on the floor. In a five-game span, he averaged just 5 points and reduced minutes. These types of slumps could be what stops Mann from making an impact on the floor and, subsequently, doing bigger and better things for the Clippers.

What do you think is the most likely role for them?

Still, there’s no other player that can quite do all that Mann can, from outhustling everyone for quick buckets to exhilarating posters against the opponent’s big. So, expect to see him as Lue’s go-to off-the-bech energizer capable of changing the momentum of the game.

His size and shot give him the flexibility of playing as either a shooting guard or a forward. Playing 20 to 30 minutes per game, Mann will be an integral part of the game, playing in place of or alongside the team’s two superstars.

While it’s too early to predict in exactly what ways Mann will produce for the squad, it’s safe to say that Mann will deliver.