When the Los Angeles Lakers selected Larry Nance, Jr. with their 27th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, casual fans (including myself) were confused, disappointed and curious. His name had a familiar ring to it (his father Larry Nance had a decent career in the NBA) but he was still an enigma the rest of us were excited to uncover. And what better way to learn about a player than YouTube?
So we searched his name and learned that he can jump really high. Still, we were not convinced that he was worthy of the Lakers’ pick. Then we found out that he tweeted out some insensitive things about Kobe in the past, which didn’t help his cause. The first rounder no one knew about was becoming known for something that was said years ago. Nance JR sincerely apologized on twitter right after the draft and once more during his introduction press conference. Nance, Jr. knew that if he wanted to get one the good graces of the Lakers’ fans he has to perform on the court
“Now I just need to make it up to you guys and the Lakers fans.”
So far, Nance, Jr. has done exactly that: performed, and proved all of us wrong. Nance, Jr. has shown us that he is more than his father’s son and immature past; he is Larry Nance, Jr., and damn can he play.”
We all knew that Nance, Jr. could jump, so when he exploded for a put-back dunk in summer league we weren’t that surprised, but when he blocked the life out of Jahlil Okafor. Lakers fans went crazy, as did the fans in Las Vegas, who chanted his name. Fast forward a few months later to preseason, Nance, Jr. took another basketball life after he did this to Festus Ezeli. He didn’t even play an official NBA game before that and he already murdered two players, one a lottery pick and the other a champion. If you don’t know the definition of the word “savage” just watch those two plays.
Okay, so this dude can jump and makes highlight plays. We can find a lot of those players in the D-League and that is exactly where we thought he was heading until he started making jumpers and snatching rebounds. Nance, Jr. was inserted in the rotation against the Brooklyn Nets and hasn’t looked back since. What is impressive about Nance, Jr.’s game is his ability to knock down a mid-range shot. In the four games that he has played, Nance Jr. made six shots from outside the paint in nine attempts (!) for a ridiculous 66%. Overall, he is shooting a blistering 70% from the field. Oh and he made all of his six shots against the Magic last game, including a three-pointer. In four games, Nance, Jr. is averaging 6.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Those are some pretty solid numbers considering he is only playing 18 minutes per game.
Larry Nance JR is not the player and person that we thought he would be, and I am happy that we were dead wrong. He battled through Crohn’s Disease and proved that he is more than just a high-fly act. He is a soft-spoken person but has spoken loudly with his play on the court. Early in a regular season that has left most Lakers fans frustrated and disappointed, Nance, Jr. is giving us a reason to dance.