It may be a lost season for the Los Angeles Lakers, but head coach Luke Walton is continuing to give looks to different lineups in the hope that he finds a workable combination. Players like D’Angelo Russell have been moved from the starting lineup to the bench and back again as experimentation is now the focus.
There may only be 11 games left on the schedule, it appears that Walton isn’t done tinkering. His next move just may be to move backup power forward Larry Nance Jr. into the starting lineup, per Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group:
Luke Walton keeping same starting lineup. At some point, Walton might start Larry Nance Jr. Unclear if that would be with Zubac or Randle
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 21, 2017
Walton’s constant tinkering may not be producing beautiful basketball, but it is giving him and the Lakers front office an opportunity to learn as much as they can about the players they employ. The information learned in these final weeks may help inform crucial personnel decisions made this summer, so there is still a lot at stake.
Nance has had a solid season as a jack-of-all-trades reserve and recently has shown more willingness to shoot mid-range jumpers as well as the occasional three. If he can get comfortable taking those kinds of shots it will increase his value to the Lakers as a floor spacer, and it’s possible that Walton wants to see Nance with the starting unit for just that purpose.
During last July’s Las Vegas Summer League it was a common for Nance to fire away from behind the arc, so perhaps that’s a tweak we will see in these closing days. With rookie center Ivica Zubac showing promise it seems more likely that Nance would slide into the starting power forward spot in place of Julius Randle, but Walton’s rotations have been unpredictable so nothing is certain.