The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to get Tre Mann minutes for the first time all season against the Houston Rockets. Sure, Mann participated in six previous games, but only at the end of blow out contests in one direction or the other.
Wednesday in Houston was a different story. The struggling Thunder looked to Mann to provide a spark off the bench, and that he did. Logging 24 minutes beginning in the middle of the first quarter, on his way to 10 points, three rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals.
The former first-round pick shot 50 percent from the floor and beyond the arc while showing off his vastly improved defense.
The Oklahoma City Thunder turned to Tre Mann for the first time all season, and it should not be the last time.
After the Florida product fell out of the rotation last season while the Thunder marched their way to a surprise 40-win season, it felt to the outside observer that Tre MAnn had been left behind.
However, Mann showed up early day with a great attitude. Engaging with his teammates, putting in extensive work during practice and pre-game shoot-arounds, and patiently waiting for the opportunity to swing back to him.
That is not an easy trait to have, from being selected in the top 20 of the NBA Draft to not logging NBA minutes, which can usually be a bit of a hit to the ego. Mann trusted himself, his teammates, and the organization and saw it pay off in Houston.
Mark Daigneault made it very clear that he came into Wednesday with the goal of playing Tre Mann against Houston as a reward for the invisible work Mann put in. While fans do not see Mann working extremely hard, or being a good teammate, it is certainly there.
Like clockwork, I show up at Paycom Center three hours before tip-off and make my way to the court. There, Tre Mann and Aaron Wiggins are working out with Thunder assistant David Akinyooye. Mann is keeping the vibes high, splashing shots, and continuing to stay ready.
That work, even before fans are let into the arena on game days, showed up on Tuesday in the NBA G League when Mann went for 26 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
So far this season, while most of the evaluation has been done in garbage time, Mann has looked much improved.
From his decision-making as a playmaker, his ability to switch and fight through screens, and getting the ball in the basket at an efficient clip, there is no surprise Mann was up for the task against the Rockets.
After Wednesday night, it appears clear Mann should be in the mix more for the Oklahoma City Thunder. His floor spacing, scoring punch, and now passable+ defense almost force the hand of the Thunder. He certainly has fans within the NBA Community.