Last year, the Los Angeles Lakers chose to select Larry Nance Jr. in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft after bringing in D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. The pick had a lot of Lakers fans scratching their heads until Nance started to show his potential during his rookie campaign.
After exceeding expectations in his first season with the Lakers, Nance put on quite a show during Summer League in Las Vegas. The Wyoming product showed an improved skill set on both ends of the floor and had some talking about whether Julius Randle’s role as the starting power forward is in jeopardy.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton was also impressed with Nance in Summer League play. Walton recently made an appearance on LA Today with Bill Reiter and Leeann Tweeden:
The little things he does on a basketball court are just, they’re everything that help make a team win games. Then you add on the fact that he has the skill and he’s starting to knock down jump shots out to the three-point line, and the athleticism to be special […] the overall picture of what he’s done so far has been incredible.
With Nance showing improvement, the outlook for the Lakers is that much more promising. Nance seems to have improved his stock considerably with Walton clearly happy about the 23-year-old’s progression. The second-year forward may end up playing a significant role in Walton’s system while Randle could see a decreased role if unable to develop a consistent jumper.
D’Angelo Russell also showed promise with the second-year guard willing to take on a leadership role as the team’s floor general. Rookie Brandon Ingram had his ups and downs during Summer League but finished strong. Croatian center Ivica Zubac was arguably one of the most impressive players on the squad with the seven-footer looking like another second-round gem for the Lakers.
The young core seems to be coming together with Walton having the right pieces in place to develop this team into a force to be reckoned with in the near future.