Los Angeles Lakers power forward Larry Nance Jr. was something of a revelation during Summer League, where he used his athleticism and improved skill to become a major threat on both ends of the floor. He was particularly impressive with his ability to grab a defense rebound and ignite a one-man fast break off the dribble, which was a priviledge that was only extended to fellow four-man Julius Randle last season.
Fortunately, it sounds like Nance’s new-found ability to dart down the floor as a playmaker will not be placed back on the shelf during the regular season. During an interview with Time Warner Cable’s Mike Bresnahan, Nance shared that his new responsibilities would indeed be part of coach Luke Walton’s offense:
“He’s bringing that Golden State type of offense where one through four can grab it off the rim and go start the fast break. That’s a little bit of what we have been working on this summer. I think I feel very comfortable in it, and I’m going to continue to work on that, but it’s definitely something that’s going to be in the offense.”
Nance also went on to mention that he isn’t sure how many threes he will be allowed to take during the season, but he did show improved range in Las Vegas. In fact, Nance was so impressive that some began speculating that he could usurp the starting power forward role from Randle.
However, a more ingtriguing possibility could be playing Nance and Randle alongside each other, with one of them sliding over to the center position. Nance sounded excited about that scenario:
“I know I can play three, four, five, but I just like being out there. So whatever position (Walton) puts me at I’ll be happy, but I would love to get a little small-ball lineup with me at center or Julius at center and just run.”
In theory, Nance’s outside shooting could help the Lakers compensate for Randle’s weakness in that area, though the real question would be whether or not the two could find a way to coexist on the defensive end.
Of course, Nance or Randle playing some center minutes could have a trickle-down effect of taking opportunities away from reserves like Tarik Black, Yi Jianlian, or perhaps Ivica Zubac, but it will be up to Walton to weigh the opportunity cost. At the very least, a small-ball lineup with Larry Nance Jr. at center is something Walton will explore, and if it proves to be viable, it could make it’s way into the regular rotation.