The consistent message head coach Luke Walton instilled into this young Los Angeles Lakers team was about development, learning from mistakes and developing a chemistry the team can take into the 2017-18 season. While at times the losing effort could get to their heads, players such as Larry Nance Jr. brought hustle and energy to every game they played.
Nance Jr., who stated the importance of the final stretch of the regular season, showed that he could compete in the starting lineup and against other starting caliber players. His sophomore campaign saw rapid development with his offensive game, as he got accustomed to knocking down that outside and mid-range jumper.
However, the defensive end is Nance Jr.’s bread and butter, an area he takes extreme pride in. The 24-year-old resides as the quarterback of the defense, sending out vocals whether guarding the interior, the pick-and-roll, or while on the help side.
During the Lakers exit interviews on Thursday, Nance Jr. touched on a number of topics, including praising his teammates and also his overall outlook heading into the offseason. The Ohio native had this excitement in his voice when discussing his future, setting a clear goal as a future defensive player of the year, via Serena Winters of LakersNation.com:
Larry Nance Jr. looking at his future: " I want to be a guy that’s in the discussion for defensive player of the year."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) April 14, 2017
During his second season, Nance Jr. posted averages of 7.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and and 1.5 assists per game. When it comes to the defensive end, he contributed 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocks per game, while also making an impact in areas not on the stat sheet.
Nance Jr. also stated he plans on improving his post moves and offensive arsenal over the summer, with the help of a former NBA player in his father. Nance Jr. displayed the intangibles that every coach dreams of throughout the season, while also communicating with his teammates whether on the bench or in the starting lineup.
Entering such an impactful offseason in terms of the Lakers franchise, both the fans and organization comprehend the continued work ethic and determination Nance Jr. has displayed on countless occassions. With the dedication to his craft, Nance Jr. can certainly elevate his game towards being mentioned as one of the premiere defensive big men in the NBA.