Some of the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent struggles can be attributed to a lack of defensive prowess, as the team hasn’t had that same intensity and production on defense that aided them to a successful start. However, it seems as though a key piece to Luke Walton’s rotation is set to return to action.
Larry Nance Jr., a key member of the bench mob, hasn’t played in a game since Dec. 20, when the Lakers lost by four points to the Charlotte Hornets. The second-year forward has been praised for having a high basketball IQ on both ends of the floor, which helped the young team flourish through the early stages of the season.
According to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet, Nance has been officially cleared by team doctors to return to the court and is likely to play on Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks:
Larry Nance Jr. (knee) has been cleared to participate in a full practice Saturday and play limited minutes Sunday against Dallas.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 21, 2017
Should Nance indeed take the court in the opener of the Lakers’ three-game road trip, he will have returned slightly ahead of the original four-week projection.
While he has been out of action, Nance has remained involved with team team, both on and off the court. While at the practice facility, he gave a hilarious summary of the many nicknames for rookie Ivica Zubac.
Nance suffered the left bone bruise during a road game against the Hornets. He wasn’t able to put weight on his knee, but disaster was avoided as X-rays came back negative. The Lakers have lacked energy and hustle during his absence, as he has made a bigger impact and evolved his game in his second season in the NBA.
In 28 games, the 24-year-old is averaging 7.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks in 22.4 minutes per game. Nance’s 58.4 field goal percentage has been impressive this season, even with his increased role in the offense.