For the first time in years, the Lakers have given fans reason for excitement thanks to a young core that has shown flashes of brilliance paired with a young head coach in Luke Walton.
Add in newly-drafted Brandon Ingram to a group consisting of fellow lottery picks Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell and draft steals in Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. and the next couple months will be dreadful for fans to wait through.
Nance himself added to the excitement after appearing on a podcast with Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy on Tuesday.
After spending a season with the Lakers’ young core of Randle, Russell, Clarkson and Anthony Brown, Nance can foresee the Lakers being together, and being successful, for years to come.
On building chemistry with young guys:
“It’s a weird melding of guys. You got your McDonald’s All-Americans with Julius, D’Angelo and Brandon Ingram. Then you got the guys that went four years of college that are a little bit older. You know me, Anthony, Jordan Clarkson. It’s a weird kind of meshing of youth together, but we’ve really come together both on the court and off the court. Just learning each other’s play type, playing pick-up games, two-on-two, one-on-one, three-on-three, just kind of getting a feel for each other this off-season. But I think off the court is really where we’ve improved. We do a lot of team dinners, team building, stuff like that to where I think all of us are comfortable enough to call another one and say ‘Let’s go grab something to eat’ or ‘Let’s go hit the golf course’ or just something like that. It’s a very good relationship we all have with each other and I think we’re all gearing up to be around each other for the next couple years.
Part of the bonding experience for the Lakers comes from going through a rough season together. Nance pointed out that the young core was not only dissatisfied with last season, but eager to change it.
On 17-win season:
It was not easy. At all. I think I lost more games this year than I did in college and high school combined.
It really was tough. I think for most of us, it was more of a learning experience. Like ‘You know what, this is miserable. I never want to do this ever again for as long as I play.’ I think it was just a year (where) we all chalked it up to like ‘This will never happen again. I don’t know what happened this year, but whatever it was, I can’t go through it again.’ You can tell it. We all kind of feel that way because a week after the season ended, we were right back in the gym working out. It was definitely something that effected us all the same way where we just wanted to put the work in and make sure it never happened again.
As most remember, the end of the Lakers’ season was marred by headlines and drama surrounding a leaked video recorded by Russell of veteran guard Nick Young.
While many claimed that teammates would never be able to trust Russell again (*cough*StephenASmith*cough*), Nance said his relationship with Russell never wavered, even referencing his own mishap regarding an old tweet about Kobe Bryant last year.
On D’Angelo’s Snapchat incident and moving forward past it:
That’s a situation that had to be handled between two men. I think we’re all just ready to move forward, including everybody involved. You know…it was a bad year and we’ll chalk it up to that. You live and learn and get past it and move on. As far as D’Angelo gaining trust…you know I can’t speak for everybody, but I haven’t lost any for him. I went through Summer League with him and that’s still one of my closest friends on the team. Mistakes happen to everybody. I had a huge blunder at the beginning of last year if you recall. It happens to everybody. Granted, it shouldn’t have happened, but I think we’re all ready to move past it and the more D’Angelo shows us on the court and as a leader in the locker room, he’s already gained my trust and respect and I think he’s definitely on his way to righting those wrongs and washing the situation away.
Clearly, the young core, or at least Nance, is ready to put last season in the past and build together toward a brighter future. A future hopefully full of lobs, alley-oops, wins and multiple titles.