Terance Mann and the Aggregation of Marginal Gains

Terance Mann has become a legitimate, reliable piece to the Clippers’ puzzle. Part of a new wave of wings, Mann is a plug and play utility belt kind of guy that will last in this league for a long time. But it didn’t start out this way for him. It’s a result of years of hard work, and an aggregation of marginal gains.

Mann was ranked top 100 in his high school class and 31st at SG, but that doesn’t guarantee you success. Terance played 17 minutes a game off the bench for Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles, and put up very impressive numbers for a freshman in the FSU system. 5–4–2 on over 58% shooting is great for a true freshman off the bench, and he showed plenty of flashes of room for improvement. In fact, being the “best kept secret” seems to be the theme of Mann’s career so far, at every level. Here’s coach Charlton Young talk about what they saw in Terance from Florida State’s YouTube channel.

It’s in his Sophomore and Junior season where Terance’s offensive talent and aggression flashes and made him a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. Jumping from 5 to 8 his Sophomore year, and then from 8 to 12 his Junior year, Terance made similar jumps in FGA as his minutes increased. The defensive intensity turned up a notch these years too, and is where Mann solidified his identity as a versatile defensive option. Both of these two years Mann averaged a steal a game, and played hard defensively every trip down the floor.

Terance’s senior season though, is where everything came together as Mann’s NBA toolbox was complete. He improved massively from range, knocking down 39% of his 3s (no other year in college did he shoot better than 30%), and began to crash the glass. Mann got up to 7 rebounds a game, after an increase of one per game every season. His free throw shooting hit its peak in his senior season too, getting up to 79%.

Terance saw steady improvement in almost every statistical category every season he spent in college, culminating in a fantastic senior season that got him into the league. But things wouldn’t get any easier coming into the league for him.

Mann’s success as a homegrown Clipper is a rarity. He’s the first Clipper since Blake Griffin to get a 2nd contract from the team after being drafted. Taken 48th in the ’19 draft, Terance had to work for every minute he wanted to see on the floor.

Mann only got to play in 41 games in the 19–20 NBA season, spending the rest of his playing time in Ontario with the Clippers’ G League affiliate. Even when he did play at the NBA level, his head coach that year (looking at you, Glenn) is infamous for not playing young guys unless his hand was forced. Terance would often just get run in garbage time, or with a few seconds left at the end of a quarter to heave a full court shot.

Devout and attentive Clippers fans saw throughout the season that there was some untapped potential in Terance to be a valuable and versatile wing, but his defensive ability was always on display, even in his limited playing time. On August 14th, 2020 though, Terance put his stubborn head coach (and the rest of the league) on notice. In the last game of the Bubble’s 8 game regular season, Mann put on a show. Putting up a STUFFED stat sheet of 25 pts, 14 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl, and 8–12 from the field, he helped the shorthanded Clippers get the win against OKC in overtime. And this would set the stage for his breakout 2020–21 season.

The best thing that happened to Terance in his basketball career, from my perspective, is Tyronn Lue becoming his head coach. Ty Lue more than doubled his minutes, and handed him the keys to the bench wing unit. And Terance delivered. The offensive production was there, but it isn’t where Terance showed the most. Much like his college improvements, Terance carved his niche out around the margins, being consistently reliable and always in the right place, making the right play. Here’s some proof of that.

Terance’s impact is felt in his youth and athleticism. In the 19–20 season, it was pretty evident early on that the Clippers were in dire need of a young rim runner that could push the pace at any point. Ty Lue unlocked that with Terance and contributed even more to this new archetype we’ve seen grow in the NBA more and more. And the ‘21–22 season was even brighter for him.

In an increased role due to the injuries of both Kawhi and PG, Terance was thrown to the fire by Ty Lue. And because of his consistency and ability to grow his game year in and year out, Terance turned in a fantastic, contract extension worthy season. Again, increasing his numbers in almost every statistical category, Terance was a large reason the depleted Clippers flirted with a playoff spot. Giving them 11–5–3 on 48% from the field and 37% from 3 with incredible, incredible defense on some of the game’s best players, Terance has more than earned himself a permanent position in the LAC rotation, even with this deep roster coming in for the ‘22–23 season.

While the offensive distribution is up in the air for this year’s LAC team, one thing is for sure. Terance Mann will play and excel in the role he’s carved out from himself. Graduating from the Draymond Green School of Basketball, Mann’s ability to improve around the edges every single year and evolve his game as the team around him does has been incredible to watch, and (if they win it) will be a large part of the Clippers’ Championship Puzzle.



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