Heading into Monday night’s matchup with the red-hot Boston Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder had lost nine straight games and 17 of their last 20. Though they are not technically eliminated from playoff contention, that is just a matter of time at this point.
But while there may not be anything left for the Thunder to play for this season, these last few weeks are still important for the numerous young players on the roster. The remaining games will give them valuable experience, and no one is taking advantage of the opportunity like Tre Mann.
The rookie guard is averaging 13.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists since the All-Star break, and his numbers will only go up after his big night against the Celtics. Mann caught fire in the second quarter en route to one of the most impressive single quarters by any player this season.
Mann scored 23 of the Thunder’s 25 points in the second quarter, which gave him the highest-scoring quarter by any rookie this season. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from downtown in the frame, which gave him the Thunder rookie record for 3s in a quarter — an impressive feat considering some of the talent that has come before him.
At one point he hit three straight 3s in the span of 49 seconds, sending the Thunder crowd into a state of delirium and forcing a Celtics timeout. His run ultimately wasn’t enough to keep the Thunder in the game for long, but it was still an awesome moment in what’s been a tough stretch for the club.
Overall in the first half, Mann put up 26 points on 9-for-12 from the field and 7-for-7 from the 3-point line. To put that in context, he’s only had two games all season where he scored more points than that.
The Thunder are heading towards another lottery trip, but there’s some genuine hope moving forward with young players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort. With his recent play, Mann is making his case that he should be part of their future as well.