Our 2021-2022 player season preview series continues with breakout third-year youngster Terance Mann, perhaps the most intriguing player on the Clippers.
Weight: 215 pounds
Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Age: 24 (will be 25 in late October)
Years in NBA: 2
Regular Season: 7.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 0.4 steals in 18.9 minutes per game across 67 games played with 50.9/41.8/83 shooting splits (60.3 TS%)
Playoffs: 7.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, and 0.5 steals in 19.9 minutes per game across 19 games played with 51.9/43.2/71.4 shooting splits (61.9 TS%)
Contract Status: Guaranteed $1.78M deal for 2021-2022 and $1.93M team option for 2022-2023
Expectations for Terance Mann are sky-high after he broke out down the stretch of the 2021 season and exploded into the national conscience with his playoff outings. His basic numbers might look pedestrian outside of his scoring efficiency, but there’s no doubting his effectiveness and ability to facilitate winning basketball on the Clippers. With Lou Williams gone and Kawhi Leonard out, Terance will be asked to do far more for the Clippers than he has so far, even with the addition of Eric Bledsoe.
There are four starters for the 2022 Clippers more or less set in stone – Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Marcus Morris, and Ivica Zubac. That fifth spot is up for grabs, but Mann has to be a leading contender for it. Even if he comes off the bench and Luke Kennard, Bledsoe, Nic Batum, or Justise Winslow grabs the last spot, he will almost certainly be playing well over 20 minutes per game, and there’s certainly a scenario where he reaches 30.
Terance will be expected to inject his trademark energy and hustle, and will be asked to guard premier wings and guards when Paul George is off the floor (or even on, to conserve PG’s energy), but this season he will also presumably be forced into more of a shot creation role. Whether serving as a primary creator with the second unit or a secondary or tertiary guy on the starters, there will be plenty of reps for Mann to get ball-handling and playmaking under his belt.
Terance is a ridiculous, absurd finisher around the basket. After shooting 71% at the rim during his three years at Florida State, he’s promptly moved to the NBA and made 70.4% of his attempts from 0-3 feet with the Clippers. Even more importantly, an insane 37% of his shots come from that area at the rim, a testament to his ability get downhill and leverage his strength to muscle into defenders to push them towards the hoop. As he will be asked to create for himself more this year and will be the beneficiary of less finishing plays and cuts, both of those percentages might go down, but probably not by much. Terance lives at the rim, in the best possible way.
Terance also rates as an around average defender at the NBA per most advanced metrics (-1.0 in EPM, 0.4 in BPM, 0.0 in Raptor, and -0.25 in D-Lebron), numbers which are mostly borne out by the eye test. Terance is still a bit too jittery, a tad too likely to jump on pump fakes or foul shooters, and he can get lost offball at times. But he’s big, strong, and quick enough to stay in front of most perimeter players as well as body larger guys on the interior, and proved his worth in the Clippers’ switch-heavy schemes in the playoffs. This regular season, with Kawhi out, he will be asked to guard more top-tier perimeter guys, and he has the physical tools, mindset, and tenacity to do so. If he cleans up some of the edges a little bit and sharpens his awareness, he could move into being a true plus-plus on defense.
Terance has improved his three-point shot, and is now fairly reliable on corner threes, though he’s still hesitant to take them. If he can become a more willing shooter, even a downturn in percentage from 41 to 35 or so would make him a more dangerous threat on offense. Considering his overall touch and free throw shooting, he should be able to be a solid three-point shooter, maybe even as soon as this season.
Finally, Terance is a positive contributor in other areas. He’s a strong rebounder for a guard, pulling down 6.9 rebounds per 36 minutes, a trait that’s even better because it allows him to push in transition. He’s also a capable passer who flashes extremely tantalizing playmaking chops at times, both as a short roller in small-small pick and rolls as well as a ballhandler himself. It’s unknown if said passing will translate to a larger offensive role, but he has good vision and is certainly willing to make all kinds of passes, so he should definitely be able to serve as a tertiary playmaker this year.
While his percentages from three look good, and he certainly has the ability to be a plus shooter in time, right now Terance’s biggest weakness is his hesitancy to shoot from deep. He attempted a mere 2.6 shots from deep per 36 minutes, and that’s with him being left open much of the time. Sometimes when he passed up open looks to drive the ball he would generate better shots for himself at the rim or pass to superior shooters, but sometimes he would “record scratch”, and the team would end with a worse shot. If he can get to a point where he’s taking around five threes per 36 minutes, even if his percentages drop to just ok, he will create a lot more room for his drives, and the offense will have more flow.
That same hesitancy can show up in Terance’s overall offensive play too. This season, he will need to be more aggressive in calling his own number with the ball in his hands, especially when he’s playing with Paul George on the bench. The Clippers don’t have many guys who can create for themselves, especially going to the rim, and will need Terance to step up in that regard – which means fewer possessions where he dribbles for four seconds and then hands the ball off to someone else.
Finally, as mentioned above, Terance is a bit foul prone, especially on shots, and just needs to be a little bit more disciplined to be a much stronger defensive player.
Terance Mann is already a solid NBA player. The Clippers this year might ask him to take the next step and become a solid starter – and while that’s a leap, I think it’s firmly within his abilities. He can make improvements as a shooter, defender, and ball-handler that are all reasonable possibilities considering his base skills and physical tools, and while making jumps across all those categories is unlikely, if he can significantly improve in even one of them, he will be a huge piece in keeping the Clippers afloat without Kawhi Leonard. Even if Terance doesn’t take a step forward, the fact that he’s young, brings intangibles, and is on an extremely cheap deal means he will be a positive asset for the Clippers and someone fans will likely be behind all the way.