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Tomahawk Nation Q&A: Previewing ’Nole Terance Mann’s future with the LA Clippers

Mann up.

Vermont v Florida State Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Two Seminoles in one night: that’s what the LA Clippers came away with after the 2019 NBA Draft. Earlier this morning, we ran the responses offered by our Michael Rogner to our SB Nation Clippers site, and now it’s time to discuss LA’s second-round choice, FSU’s Terance Mann. The questions are from Robert Flom of Clips Nation, and the answers are those of our very own Matt Minnick.

1. Terance Mann’s shot improved a ton between his junior and senior seasons. How legit do you think that is? Does he have a nice touch, and just need to expand his range, or do the improved free throw and three point numbers seem a bit fluky?

You’re absolutely right that Mann’s shooting numbers improved dramatically between his junior and senior seasons. However, having seen him grinding in practice his entire career, I can tell you that much of the mechanical improvement was four years in the making. Terance arrived at FSU with not only a hitch in his release, but also an elbow that liked to angle out and a little knee bend that resulted in very little arc. FSU assistant coach Stan Jones is renowned for his ability to fix shot mechanics over time, and Mann is another example of him working his magic.

Let’s start with the free throw percentages. This is likely not a fluke. Mann’s FT% improved steadily every year he was on campus. Looking at his percentages just against Tier A and B opponents on KenPom (i.e. against the best opponents, often in games on the road or neutral courts), Mann’s four-year numbers were: 48%; 60%; 64%; 86%. Even more important, his FT Rate stayed steady in the mid-40s, meaning he was getting to the line just as frequently, even as his percentages increased.

The three point percentage is a bit more nuanced. Mann had virtually no three-point range his freshman year. His shot was flat, there was little spin on the ball, and he got no lift on his jumper. In fact, only 13 of his 125 FG attempts his freshman year were threes.

Over time, his shot mechanics improved, but his confidence in the shot did not. Sitting courtside you could literally hear his teammates and coaches scream for him to take the open corner three that FSU’s offensive system dictated he attempt...only to watch Mann pass up the shot and the possession often result in a turnover. This continued through his sophomore and junior campaigns, despite more and more evidence in practice that his range was slowly but surely extending. To start his senior year, Mann made a three in 7 of FSU’s first 9 games, but the volume was still painfully low and open looks were still being frustratingly passed up. Finally, with FSU’s season teetering on the brink after a 1-4 start to ACC play his senior season, Mann started stepping into open threes. Mann averaged more than 2.3 three-point attempts for the last 19 games of his career, after averaging just 1.63 for his junior and first half of his senior year. And not only did his volume increase, Mann actually finished fourth in the ACC in 3pt%, on 18-41 shooting (43.9%) in league play.

Now, most of these makes were either corner threes or from the wing. And nearly all came off an assist after he’d had time to square his feet and shoulders. So, the range is likely not legitimate NBA range at this time. However, the mechanics are visibly tighter and the confidence is clearly growing. While he will never be Klay Thompson, given Mann’s surprising touch on floaters in the lane, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s able to become a competent 3 point shooter at NBA distance.

2. Mann is a good man-to-man defender. What’s he like in terms of rotation/help/team defense? Also can he guard smaller players like point guards?

The short answer is, yes.

FSU switches on defense more than most college teams, often employing a defense resembling Golden State’s Death Lineup. Nearly every perimeter defender under Leonard Hamilton is long, laterally quick, and asked to cover a ton of ground as they funnel dribblers into the teeth of FSU’s rim protectors, and Mann is no exception.

There were times where Mann would over-help, especially earlier in his career when playing with guys like Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon, who were not quite as natural defenders as Mann. But Mann’s high basketball IQ allows him to learn from his mistakes quickly. Moreover, his impressive athleticism and length makes it possible for him to guard smaller 1s and 2s, as well as bigger 3s and 4s. He’s not quite quick enough to stick with someone like Kyrie Irving in a one-on-one situation, but he should be able to harass a point guard such as Devin Booker or Jrue Holiday.

3. If Mann’s shot doesn’t develop, what else can he offer offensively?

Ironically, because of Mann’s borderline unwillingness to attempt threes for the first half of his FSU career, he was forced to contribute in other ways -- or else not see the court. He’s the type of guy who can impact the game without dominating the ball; where you’ll not have noticed him much and look at the halftime box score and be surprised to see him all over it.

Offensive rebounding seems to be an uncanny knack of his. Despite playing against — and with — an endless line of NBA bodies in the ACC, Mann was routinely there for the tip-in or acrobatic put-back slam. In four games against LSU, Duke, and Gonzaga this last year, all teams loaded with NBA talent in the front courts, Mann averaged 4.25 offensive rebounds.

Mann is also a capable passer and displays above-average court vision. Excelling at slashing into the lane and lobbing to a waiting big man, Mann had assist-rates of 16% or higher his final two seasons in Tallahassee.

Speaking of slashing, Mann absolutely knows how to get to and creatively finish around the rim. His ability to contort his body into position to convert a layup is impressive, and all one has to do is type his name into YouTube to find numerous examples of rim-rocking dunks.

His ball-handling is not elite and he’ll never be confused as a point guard. He often dribbles too high and sometimes picks up his dribble at troublesome locations. However, he’s capable enough that he’s able to bring the ball up the court after a defensive rebound, or even help break a token press.

4. The Clippers are obsessed with competitiveness and toughness as an organization. How does Terance fit into that?

Brilliantly. Simply put, if you aren’t mentally and physically tough, you won’t play at FSU. Period. Here’s a few stats for y’all who most likely don’t (because why would you?) follow FSU basketball very closely.

  • The season prior to Mann’s arrival, FSU went 17-16 and lost six games at home, including one to Northeastern
  • In Mann’s final three seasons, the Seminoles average record was 26-9.6. During that period, they lost a total of three games at home, all three by 4 points or less, and one of which was on a buzzer beating three to Duke this past season
  • Mann played in more games than any other player in FSU history
  • Barely a top 100 recruit, he was often overlooked even by his own fans as big-time recruits like Beasley, Bacon, and Jonathan Isaac stepped on campus for brief periods of time

And he did it all with a mega-watt smile on his face and a willingness to do whatever his coaches and teammates needed him to do in order to be successful. Terance Mann truly helped re-establish a selfless, tough, winning culture that FSU’s program exudes today.