We’re continuing our 213Hoops Exit Interview series, where we go player-by-player through the Clippers’ roster and break down how each player on the team performed relative to their pre-season expectations, and ponder their future with the team. Today, we’re taking a look at breakout second year wing Terance Mann, who has worked himself into being a key piece of the Clippers’ future.
Weight: 215 pounds
Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
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
Back in my player preview in December, I said that Terance Mann was slated for around 300 minutes in the 2021 season and would serve in a 12th or 11th man role for the Clippers. While he’d had a solid rookie year, especially considering his draft status as a mid-2nd rounder, he also hadn’t blown the doors off the NBA, and was entering his second year on a team trying to win a championship now with little time for pure player development. Some expectations may have been a bit higher, but Mann was widely regarded as a fringe rotation player who might help the Clippers, but probably wouldn’t play a larger role.
Partially due to his own play, and partially due to the injuries besetting the roster much of the year, Mann stayed in the rotation nearly the entire season. He appeared in 67 games, tied for second-most on the team, and averaged 18.9 minutes per contest, over twice the 8.8 minutes of his rookie campaign. In totality he played 1267 minutes, 7th on the team, a number which signifies his reliability as well as increased importance on the roster.
Indeed, after some early struggles, Mann situated himself as being an invaluable member of the Clippers. His athleticism, size, aggression in attacking downhill, and ability to finish at the rim differentiated him from the rest of the Clippers’ guards and wings, who were some combination of old, small, and unathletic for the most part. The Clippers’ second half surge was due in no small part to the increased role of Mann – his ability to juice up the offense with his drives in the halfcourt as well as pace in transition were much needed shots in the arm for a team that was too frequently overly deliberate.
Defense was not quite the steady step forward for Terance, as he struggled to master the nuances of both on-ball and off-ball defense. While he continued to show great promise on the ball with his combination of size, length, and quickness, a tendency to leave his feet and get caught on the screens led to frequent poor fouls on closeouts and desperate swipes. Off the ball, he sometimes got caught in the maze of screens set for shooters, with the Clippers paying the price with open threes or scrambling rotations. Still, he was on the whole an average to slightly above-average defender, not a bad mark for a second-year wing frequently tasked with slowing down opposing superstars.
What launched Terance Mann to the national stage, however, was his playoff performance for the Clippers. When the Clippers went small, Mann became a key ingredient to their switch-everything lineups, and helped add more rebounding and size than guys like Luke Kennard or Rajon Rondo. Everything came together in that glorious Game 6 against the Jazz, when Mann practically carried the Clippers to the historic win through a 39 point eruption featuring 7 incredible three-pointers. The Jazz left him open, and Mann made shot after shot. Not only did he score on wide open threes, but he also drove the ball in transition and bullied his way to the rim as well, showcasing his versatility. It was an incredible, unbelievable performance, and launched Mann into Clippers’ lore forever.
Future with Clippers
The Clippers tenure of Terance Mann, however, is almost certainly not over. Terance is under the Clippers’ cost controlled rookie contract for two more years, and even if he doesn’t improve any more, the contract is such a steal that the Clippers will presumably only part with Terance for a true game-changing star.
More importantly, Terance is just 24, is coming off a second-year where he made a gigantic leap from his rookie season, and has plenty of room to improve further. If he can up his three-point volume from under two attempts per game into the four to five range, and can maintain a solid (35% or higher) rate, defenders will have to truly guard him from deep, which will open up his driving game. His defense, too, can take steps forward as he becomes more disciplined, stronger, and gets more reps against other NBA players.
Even more tantalizing, Terance has shown flashes of true off-the-dribble shot creation. He can get to the rim at a very nice clip, and is an incredible finisher when he does get there. Mann also displayed pull-up midrange jumpers at various points, and while those aren’t effective shots, they are the backbone of most wing creators. If he can continue to hone those jumpers in addition to more spot-up shooting from deep and improved defense, he will move from valuable rotation player to long-term starter.
Terance might get a chance to consistently start as soon as this season. With Kawhi Leonard missing at least the first few months of the year due to his ACL surgery, there’s a hole in the starting lineup, and the player best suited to fill it right now is Terance. That could change in free agency, but even if he doesn’t start, Terance Mann seems like a lock to play at least 25 minutes per game next year for the Clippers. Hopefully it’s just upwards from here, and we are looking at the beginning stages of a truly great Clippers career.