One of the main storylines as the Lakers prepare for Training Camp is the starting power forward. Julius Randle is regarded as the option with the higher potential. Larry Nance, Jr., meanwhile, seems to be a better fit and has thus far proved to be a steal compared to his draft position.
Regardless of who starts, the Lakers are in a great place at that position. Having two young players with high potentials who can drive each other to their best forms is nothing but a positive.
But make no mistake, both players have a finite ceiling as of right now. The greatest cause of that lowered potential is the lack of a jump shot. Randle was among the worst players in the NBA as it pertains to shooting. Nance showed a little more ability at a low volume but was ultimately inconsistent and still unproven.
In order for Randle and Nance to improve offensively as a whole, some amount of shooting ability is needed.
Fortunately, it appears the duo have been working hard on improving their shooting. Their head coach, Luke Walton, confirmed that to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
Randle spent part of his two-a-day workout sessions with an unrevealed shooting coach to make subtle changes to his stroke. As Lakers coach Luke Walton said, “it’s been very impressive to see his commitment this offseason to become a better shooter.”
While Nance provided more examples of his energy and leadership in Summer League, he often worked on both his 3-point shot and mid-range jumper at the Lakers’ practice facility. As Walton said, “he’s definitely a capable 3-point shooter and his mid-range game has been pretty consistent.”
[On Randle] “He’s put a ton of time into his jump shot and making a lot more of them, but it’s a fine line obviously,” Walton said. “He’s so good at getting to the rim and pushing the ball in transition. He has such strength and quickness. But you still want to use that to your advantage in being able to rely on the fact you can knock down jump shots.”
On-court improvements during the offseason are always great things to hear about from a fan’s perspective. Randle and Nance likely won’t become great shooters over one offseason (and it appears as though Walton wants them to adjust to shooting more gradually), but any significant growth is great.
The entire young core seems to have been working in the gym all summer. It’s good to hear about some specific growth in an area of need for two of the major keys to the Lakers’ future.