Larry Nance, Jr. is a strong example of an NBA player who is more productive than his numbers show. With that said, his statistics are pretty good and well-rounded per 36 minutes: 11.2 points, 9.2 boards, 2.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. He does so many little things when he’s on the floor that you’ll very rarely hear anything but praise when asking Luke Walton or his staff about the second-year player. Nance showed his versatility by playing well both in a reserve power forward role, and as a starting center late in the season.
His off-the-ball defense is probably the best on the Lakers, and he held up well on the rock as well. Meanwhile, his offensive game improved (117 offensive rating in year two compared to a 111 rating in year one) as he started to look more for his jump shot. There’s still work to do there. The Wyoming product shot 68.3 percent from 5 feet and in, and 47.9 percent from 5-9 feet, but dropped off to 34.6 percent from 10-14 feet, 39.1 percent from 15-19 feet and 38.2 percent from 20-24 feet. His stroke did look better as the year went on.
By the Numbers
1.3: Steals for Nance on the season, trailing only D’Angelo Russell (1.4) despite playing roughly six fewer minutes per game.
3.5: Win shares for Nance, which tied Julius Randle for the team lead.
13.4: Usage rate for Nance, which was above only David Nwaba on the team. Nance, Jr. was able to find way to be effective despite having the ball very little.
The bottom line is that Nance has shown the Lakers what a valuable piece he can be moving forward with his all-around skills, with room for growth still attainable. He will certainly look to keep improving his jump shot, which could unlock defenses by making opponents have to move out of the paint to contest, thus opening it up for teammates. The 24-year-old emphasized how much work he’s going to put into his shot over the summer at exit interviews, and also discussed how he wants to get even better as an on-ball defender, watching tape of Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard, as he’d like to be in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion in the future. As shown by tying for the most win shares on the team, his impact is already more than what could be reasonably expected from a No. 27 overall pick.