At the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers surprised many when they selected Larry Nance Jr. with their 28th pick. The forward from Wyoming was projected to be a second round pick at best and popular names such as R.J. Hunter and Kevin Looney were still available.
Since being named a starter by head coach Byron Scott, Nance Jr. has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers.
While Nance Jr. is averaging 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds, the rookie forward has recently been able to knock down his perimeter shots. Although Nance Jr. is known for his jumping abilities, he believes he will develop into a stretch four according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“Yeah, it’ll happen,” Nance Jr. told Los Angeles News Group. “I’m a rookie and I got lots of years to perfect my craft and work on my game. I’m getting very comfortable shooting the 15- and 18-footer. I’ve got multiple years and multiple summers to be able to work that out to the 3-point line. I’m very confident.”
Head coach Byron Scott shares they saw Nance Jr.’s shooting abilities during training camp and have encouraged him to take those shots, via Medina:
“We saw that in training camp, but he was just very reluctant to shoot it,” Scott said. “We kept telling him, ‘You’re passing up great shots. These are shots we feel you can make. You have to take those shots when they’re available.’
In order for the Lakers to speed up their rebuilding process, it requires them to make good decisions with their late draft picks as well. Over the past two seasons, the Lakers have found gems in Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, who will play pivotal roles for the franchise moving forward.
With Nance Jr. looking to expand his range, it will be interesting to see if he remains in the starting lineup to start the new year. Scott has discussed the possibility of making another lineup change as Julius Randle has established himself as a double-double machine.