The somewhat known commodities
In many ways, the 2022-2023 season and sophomore years in the NBA for Tre Mann and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was the season from hell. Mann even mentioned earlier this year that this was the worst season of his life and extremely hard. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had his season derailed by an ankle injury that kept him out for two straight months of game action. Can these returning roster members avoid the chopping block?
As I previously mentioned, Tre Mann’s sophomore season was a year he would like to throw away and burn the remains. After his rookie season, there were a lot of flashes from Mann as a quintessential 6th man microwave scoring guard off the bench. This led to some hype for Mann going into this season, which, unfortunately, Mann was not able to capitalize on.
It felt like comfort, rhythm, and confidence were all issues that hindered Tre Mann in 2022-2023. His three-point shooting could be considered inconsistent. That kind of comes with the territory of being a microwave bench scorer who can catch fire at any point.
There are going to be highs and lows throughout the season. In his rookie season, these highs and lows were much more stable, this season, it was a lot more lows for Mann as his three-point percentages went down by 4.5 percent to 31.5 percent. For context, Russell Westbrook shot 31.1 percent from 3 last season on essentially the same number of attempts per game. (Mann: 3.8 and Westbrook: 3.9)
Mann was in constant limbo bouncing between the OKC Thunder roster and getting extended time with the Oklahoma City Blue in an attempt to work through any confidence issues to get back to the player many people believe that he could be.
Mann has the benefit of having experience with the coaching staff, the front office, and his teammates. It may not seem like a big deal, but I think the Thunder could look to prioritize keeping a guy around who looked way better in the recent Summer League who they invested a first-round pick in three seasons ago.
Mann, in my estimation, will be able to avoid the chopping block for now, but that doesn’t mean that Mann is safe long-term. Going into a contract year where the OKC Thunder have a team option on his deal, the spotlight will be on Tre Mann to produce. Not to mention the Thunder currently could end up owning up to four first-round picks in next year’s draft. This roster crunch is not going anywhere and will be staring guys like Tre Mann in the face as they fight for their spot on the Thunder and maybe for their next NBA team.
Coming into last season, there were high hopes for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl after he played in 49 NBA games in his rookie season and even started 36 of those games. Robinson-Earl showed his potential as a stocky 4/5 man who could switch onto guards in space at times, bang down low with big bodies in the post and stretch the floor from three, shooting 35 percent from deep.
Many people, myself included, were really excited to see Robinson-Earl and his fit next to incoming rookie Chet Holmgren. It felt like a great fit where Holmgren could provide rim protection and shot blocking while Robinson-Earl handled the bigger post-up players that were projected to give Holmgren problems.
This dream was extinguished quickly when Holmgren had an off-season injury and was ruled out of his rookie year with an injury. Robinson-Earl was healthy for the start of the season, but soon the tides changed and went sideways for him. On December 12, 2022, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl sprained his ankle and would miss the next two months of games.
For weeks fans and media, members wondered when he would return. Ankle injuries are unique and can keep guys out for varying timetables. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was on the bad end of this and missed way more time than most would have expected. Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault even described the sprain as “impressive.”
By the time Jeremiah Robinson-Earl returned to action, the OKC Thunder had somewhat already filled his spot in the rotation through the rise of Jaylin Williams, who even later became the team’s starting center.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl looked entirely out of rhythm and out of sorts after he returned. No question the injury was still impacting him and hindering his game. Just like Tre Mann, I think Robsinon-Earl’s past and experience within the Thunder system will put him in good standing to avoid the chopping block.
The pressure on Mann will also be directed at Robinson-Earl if he wants to stick around OKC between the positional competition and the aforementioned potential four first-round picks in the upcoming draft.
Let’s be honest, most of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s sophomore season was rough too bad. It is hard to judge him coming back from his injury, but I would like to see the OKC Thunder give him another shot and see what he can do with new roster members he hardly got to share the floor with last year.