The Los Angeles Lakers may be without one of their key pieces, as power forward Larry Nance Jr. headed to the locker room during the third quarter against the Portland Trailblazers. Nance has been one of the team’s best defenders and producing career numbers this season with 11.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.6 steals while playing the kind of switching, aggressive defense that coach Luke Walton loves.
Unfortuantely, the fear is that Nance may have broken his left hand after getting tangled up trying to block a shot. Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group reports that he is awaiting X-Rays:
Larry Nance Jr. is out for the night with an ominous sounding "left hand injury." Waiting on X-Rays.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 3, 2017
Those fears were confirmed by Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell, who tweeted the news that Nance fractured the fifth metacarpal on his left hand:
X-ray’s were positive for a fracture of the 1st metacarpal on the left hand of Larry Nance, Jr.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 3, 2017
With Nance likely out for an extended period, the Lakers will have to put someone else in as their starting power forward. It would appear likely that either Julius Randle or Kyle Kuzma will get the nod, although both have had so much chemistry with the bench unit that Walton may be hesitant to break that up.
Randle got off to a rocky start but has come on strong in the Lakers last six games and thrived in his new role as the team’s backup center. His strength and speed advantage has been noticeable after spending much of the offseason getting himself into incredible shape.
Kuzma, on the other hand, is a rookie but he has been absolutely electric thanks to his versatility and outside shooting. Kuzma also has a solid connection with starting point guard Lonzo Ball since their time in the Las Vegas Summer League.
The loss of Nance hurts, and now the Lakers will have to find a way to get by without him.