Lakers News: Larry Nance Jr. Has Been Cleared To Return To Practice
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Darrell Ann-Lakers Nation

The Los Angeles Lakers have largely avoided the injury bug so far this season, except for one big exception. Starting power forward Larry Nance Jr. fractured a bone in his hand.

The news came as a blow to both Nance and the Lakers as he was enjoying a career-year to that point. With the Lakers having a newfound focus on defense, Nance played a big role in that with his hustle, basketball IQ, and communication.

The expected timeframe for Nance to return was four-to-six weeks, but he may be back even sooner. Nance has already returned to the weight room and now, according to Bill Oram of the OC Register, Nance has been cleared to return to practice:

Nance’s injury occured only two weeks ago so this type of progress was unexpected. Even head coach Luke Walton said he didn’t expect Nance to be this far along already via Oram:

The Lakers would gladly welcome Nance back as soon as he is able to return. His defensive mindset and non-stop hustle has been missed and the team has strayed away from its early-season focus on defense in his absence at times.

The big question for Walton will be whether he re-inserts Nance into the starting lineup once he is ready. Nance was averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, steals and field goal percentage before the injury with his rebounds and steals leading the Lakers.

Rookie Kyle Kuzma has really stepped up since being inserted into the starting lineup in Nance’s place as he is averaging 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds as a starter.

With the Lakers’ offensive struggles, Walton could elect to keep Kuzma with the starters. The good thing about Nance however, is that he is sure to give the same effort and hustle regardless of the role he plays.

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