The Los Angeles Lakers raised some eyebrows when they selected Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. with the 27th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but he quickly became a fan favorite.
Nance is the kind of versatile defender that the NBA is trending towards, with the foot speed to switch onto perimeter players with relative ease and the tenacity to make life difficult on whoever he is guarding. However, while fans certainly appreciate what Nance brings to the defensive end, it’s his high-flying dunks that really get people out of their seats.
Back in 2015, he threw down a vicious dunk on then-Golden State Warrior Festus Ezeli, putting the rest of the league on notice that he would be putting opponents on posters. His dunk over Brook Lopez, then of the Brooklyn Nets, last season was so good that it was named one of the top-10 plays of 2016-2017 by NBA.com:
Ironically, Lopez, who was victimized by Nance’s massive dunk, is now Nance’s teammate on the Lakers after the Nets traded him and the 27th overall pick in the draft for guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov. The Lakers ended up using the 27th pick on Utah’s Kyle Kuzma, who won the MVP award of the Las Vegas Summer League’s championship game.
As for Nance, the bouncy forward has spent part of the offseason working on his outside shot. The hope is that he can become something of a floor spacer on the offensive end, which would free up room for the likes of Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to sneak to the rim.
It also helps that the Lakers added passing maestro Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in this year’s draft, which means that Nance should find plenty of opportunities to knock down open jump shots. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Nance’s power game will disappear, and fans can still look forward to him soaring through the air and dunking all over hapless opponents.