The Los Angeles Lakers had a mostly successful outing in Las Vegas earlier this offseason. Despite ultimately losing their final two games in Summer League, the young players on the team all showed some signs of developing into good or great players.
Perhaps the biggest star in Summer League was Larry Nance, Jr. who showed significant development and growth. His all-around game and vicious dunks had the predominately Lakers crowd chanting his name in Vegas.
That Lakers crowd was one of Nance’s main takeaways from the annual tournament. As he told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, Lakers Nation was in regular season form in Las Vegas:
Lakers Nation is nuts. But it’s really cool to where we can go to Vegas for Summer League and we were playing Philly and one of the first plays of the game, D’Angelo hit me with a bounce pass in a pick-and-roll and I just airballed a jumper. And they just started bellowing ‘Larry! Larry!’ It’s like ‘Man, these fans are awesome.’ Like, I just airballed and they still got my back? Normally it’s just like ‘Airball!’ and ‘This guy sucks.’ It was really good to see that.
Nance also spoke about Summer League as a whole and how the team fared. The sophomore power forward was pleased with the progress that the three returning members of the team (D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Brown, and himself) showed. Notably, he spoke about the trio’s success in Luke Walton’s (watered down) system:
The Summer League was really cool because me and D’Angelo and Anthony, you know the guys that have been around, really wanted to make a splash and kind of show how much we’ve improved this off-season in the Summer League. D’Angelo obviously had a terrific Summer League and, in my opinion, belonged on the First Team for Summer League but you know that’s for another discussion.
I thought Anthony shot it well when he had the chance. He played really good defense, especially on Buddy (Hield) in the first game.
Then you know myself, I thought…I did alright. I thought I showed I worked on my jumper in the off-season, trying to stretch it out to the three (point line). I felt we just showed that we’re capable of playing Coach Luke’s offense and how much we’ve been working in the off-season.
Nance spoke about Walton’s system at other times in the interview, as well. He noted the importance of the culture that Walton has changed in Los Angeles and expressed his excitement for small-ball lineups featuring both Nance and Julius Randle.
Finally, Nance, Jr. reassured Lakers fans that his injury is a minor one. After taking a hard fall in the Lakers’ final Summer League game, Nance was feared to have a broken wrist. Luckily, X-Rays showed that he had only sprained it and as Nance told Kennedy, he should be back on the court in no time.
The wrist is good. We originally had it diagnosed as broken, but…I would definitely rather have it misdiagnosed this way as preferred to the other. It’s just a sprain, a pretty gnarly one, but I’m still not on the court. I’m hoping to be back there in about a week, week and a half. Other than that, I’m good.
This should be a huge season for Larry Nance, Jr. in determining how he fits with the Lakers long term. He seems ready for the challenge.