Larry Nance Jr. dunked his way into the hearts of Lakers fans last season with his high-flying slams and relentless hustle. Los Angeles caught most off-guard when they selected the Wyoming senior with the 27th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but it turned out to be a prescient decision.
Nance recently appeared on the Land O’ Lakers Podcast with ESPN’s Andy and Brian Kamenetzky to discuss a variety of topics, including what his summer workouts have entailed. Nance mentioned focusing on building up his lower body to help fight against the stronger players in the league. He also talked about stretching his range out to the three-point line, though he was quick to dispel any thoughts of becoming a “3 and D” player:
“I don’t want to be in that role (3 and D)….I don’t want my offensive game to be limited to the three-point line because that’s not where my strengths lie. I’m an around-the-basket explosive athlete, so that’s where I want to be. I want it to be that if I’m out (at the three-point line) you have to respect me”
Nance discussed the new reality for the Lakers now that they live in a post-Kobe world. He is very aware of the fact that rebuilding the team is going to largely fall on the shoulders of himself and other young players like Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and D’Angelo Russell. Nance also believes that it will take a group effort from the Lakers’ core in order to pull in superstar free agents:
“…it has to be done as a group. There’s not many Kobe’s that can almost pull a franchise on his back single-handedly. It’s going to take a group effort. None of us are Kobe Bryant, there’s not going to be another Kobe Bryant. Us four or five guys are going to need to have good chemistry in order to turn this thing around and attract some big names.”
The Kamenetzky brothers also took a moment to address the upcoming NBA Draft, where the Lakers have the second-overall pick. Nance didn’t have much to say about who the team should pick, but he did have some real concerns about adding more young players without also acquiring veterans to lead the way:
“I’m just ready to work with whoever the team brings in. Personally, I would like to see the team get some veteran presence…to come in and help us build from the bottom […] I might have learned more this year playing in the same unit as Brandon Bass than from anybody else this year. He’s just a pro in every sense of the word.”
Nance does bring up an excellent point. With Kobe retired and Bass and Roy Hibbert free agents, it’s possible that the Lakers will lose nearly all of their veteran leaders this summer. Talent and athleticism on the court are certainly important, but basketball is also a thinking man’s game, and it helps to have experienced veterans to get the young kids to truly understand what’s happening on the court.
With the Lakers likely adding either Brandon Ingram or Ben Simmons with the number two overall pick, plus another young player coming with the 32nd pick, it’s going to be on Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak to fill the few remaining roster spots with veteran leaders.