With the NBA season coming up, we are running our annual pre-season player preview series. First up, a 2021 season preview for second-year guard Terance Mann.
Weight: 216 pounds
Years in NBA: 1
Key Stats: 2.4 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.3 steals in 8.8 minutes per game across 41 games played on 46.8/35/66.7 shooting splits.
Contract Status: In the second year of a 4 year, $6.2M contract, with the second year guaranteed, third non-guaranteed (guarantee date of August 1 2021), and fourth year a team option.
Expectations for Terance should be firmly reset after they were raised far, far too high going into his rookie season. A promising Summer League, continuous hype by the Clippers, and Jerry West’s “He will play a big part by the end of the season” words at a fan event combined to generate expectations that Mann would be a rotation player on a championship contender as a second-round rookie. While he did appear in over half the Clippers’ regular season games, and had some nice moments, he was a garbage-time guy in the playoffs, and his playing time dropped off after the opening months of the season.
Right now, he is not slated for rotation minutes, as the Clippers have recently shored up rotation gaps at wing with Nic Batum and at point guard with Reggie Jackson. However, Kawhi will miss a bunch of games due to load management, and those games could push one of Mann or Coffey into the rotation. Mann, who the Clippers are grooming as a point guard, should also be in line for minutes in the inevitable Lou Williams/Pat Beverley/Luke Kennard injury, so even if he’s technically third-string or fourth-string, it seems likely that he will get at least some minutes this season.
The Clippers don’t need him to be great, they just need him to be serviceable for the ~300 minutes he looks likely to receive this season. If they get more from him, great. If they get less, well, it’s probably not a huge deal. Either way, anything above replacement level 11th or 12th man minutes would be a bonus.
As a rookie, Mann was already a plus defender (by advanced stats as well as the eye test) who can guard positions 1-3 due to his combination of lateral quickness, height, and length. He’s not quite strong enough to defend 4s, but as he progresses in his NBA career he might gain that ability. Additionally, he’s an excellent rebounder for a guard, showcasing his instincts and effort in beating both opponents and fellow teammates to the ball. That defense and rebounding means he will rarely be a huge negative on the court, as he does bring pluses on one half of the ball.
On offense, Mann is an exceptional finisher around the basket. He shot 69% on shots within 0-3 feet of the basket per basketball reference, and was at an even higher mark in college. If he’s in the lane, he has a strong chance of finishing. While not a next-level passer or playmaker who can consistently create shots for others, he has solid vision and is more than capable of making simple reads in the pick and roll and transition. He’s also fairly turnover-averse, rarely making poor decisions as a passer or ball-handler.
Mann is an unwilling shooter who took only 20 threes in 362 regular season minutes last season. Despite possessing decent form and solid percentages (across limited NBA and college attempts), Mann just doesn’t like to pull the trigger on his own shot. That lack of confidence enabled teams to play off of him on the offensive end, which clogged up the rest of the Clippers offense. If he’s to take a step into being a true rotation player, his attempts from three need to get up. Even if his percentages dip a bit, his being an actual threat from deep starts with merely taking the shots.
Outside of the three-point shot, Mann just isn’t aggressive enough in general. While he doesn’t need to be a true lead playmaker while alongside at least one of Lou/Kennard, he does need to make stronger and more confident decisions with the ball in his hands. Too often last season he would merely hand the ball off on the perimeter or make a halfhearted attack just to pass out without strengthening the Clippers’ offensive position. It was too far to say he was a non-factor on offense last year, but he wasn’t that much better, and that simply has to change if he’s to become a rotation-level NBA player.
Mann is probably the closest of any of the Clippers’ young guys (Coffey, Fi, Oturu, and Scrubb being the others) to being a reliable NBA player due to his strengths as a defender and rebounder. Still, barring a step forward in his shooting ability and/or aggression on the offensve end, he’s probably not someone they should be relying upon for more than spot minutes. Still, he’s young, and has a solid base to improve upon. With a thin Clippers’ roster, and a new player development focused coaching staff, Mann should get some time to prove himself this season.