It is officially official, as Ty Lue named Terance Mann as the Clippers’ starting power forward today at practice. Thus, the Clippers’ starting lineup will be Russell Westbrook – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Mann – Ivica Zubac.
For as much as I have pushed Mann as a starter over the years, I’m not sure I love the fit with him and Russell Westbrook and Zubac. Mann needs to be ready to shoot from three at a high-volume, and that’s something he hasn’t shown he can do. Maybe he gets there – he’s shot well from three at a low volume. But Mann has peaked at 3.8 threes attempted per 36 minutes, and that needs to go way, way up. If he doesn’t, the spacing in that unit will not be great. Robert Covington’s ability to launch threes at a high-clip, plus his help defense, made him my top choice as the fifth starter.
However, Mann is the best overall player to plug into the starting lineup, and his combination of ball-handling, perimeter defense, energy, and at least some shooting is a good fit. He is a better player than Covington, or Nic Batum – and certainly than KJ Martin or Marcus Morris. I’m glad he’s getting a steady role, and hope he makes the most of it.
The next question is what the bench will look like. Bones Hyland and Norm Powell are locks as the guards. Mason Plumlee is set at center. That leaves two spots. One of Covington or Nic Batum seems necessary for defense and shooting. However, Ty Lue has not liked playing both of them together, and I get why – it’s a limited duo in terms of playmaking and creation. If only one of them plays, the next most likely option is KJ Martin, who offers athleticism and rebounding – but also doesn’t bring any more in the way of ballhandling or playmaking.
There is the possibility that Ty starts the year with a 9 man rotation, plays one of Nico and RoCo, and brings one of the starters in with the bench. However, he’s said he wants a 10 man rotation, and for an older, injury-prone team, it makes sense to start with more guys and then work down. Therefore, my guess is the bench unit is Bones-Norm-KJ-RoCo-Plumlee. Nico is awesome, but I think the very fact that the Clippers are dead certain they know what they’re getting for him makes it easier to keep him out of the rotation early and work him in whenever needed.
So, that’s it for now. Marcus Morris is, finally, no longer the Clippers’ starting power forward. Clippers fans everywhere outside of Morris Muse can rejoice, and the Clippers’ lineup should be more dynamic and energetic.