Lakers: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for Larry Nance Jr Next Season

Mar 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Lakers 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. (7) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Lakers 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Lakers’ forward, Larry Nance Jr. was a surprise to many fans last year, demonstrating impressive talent and ridiculous athleticism en route to a solid rookie year

While it is still too early to tell, it appears highly likely that Lakers’ sophomore, Larry Nance Jr. will ultimately be considered a significant steal, as the team was able to land him late in the first round of last year’s draft. In order to achieve that status, however, Nance will have to continue to improve his game and adjust to the NBA level.

In an attempt to get a better idea of Nance’s potential, we’ll take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for him this upcoming year. While this season will probably end up somewhere in the middle, it’s important to get a sense of what to expect from the athletic forward going forward.

Best Case Scenario

In a perfect world, Larry Nance Jr. would use this offseason to improve upon multiple aspects of his game. While his athleticism was staggering at times last season, he often became overly passive with the ball and lacked the aggression to consistently make plays. If a year of experience gives him the confidence to attack with more regularity he will be on his way to a breakout second season.

Nance showed flashes of a jump shot throughout last season, going through a stretch in which he shot very efficiently from mid-range. He even made a few threes as the season wore on, which was encouraging to see. If he enters next season with a reliable mid-range shot, and a serviceable shot from beyond the arc, he could become a threatening force on offense.

Being able to space the floor more effectively will not only make him a useful weapon in Luke Walton’s system, it will give him more opportunities to use his athleticism to attack the rim. Forcing defenders to close out and play tighter defense will open up lanes to the basket, which Nance Jr. can use to make plays like this one:

Nance should also thrive in the Lakers new look offense, which will offer him more opportunities to get the ball in space or cutting to the rim. More motion and ball movement will allow the sophomore forward to play to his strengths more, rather than trying to produce in isolation.

The University of Wyoming product can also continue to make strides on the defensive end, an area in which he was quite solid last year.

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He has the tools to be be a lock down defender who defend multiple positions, while still providing value as a shot-blocker in help situations. This could allow him to become elite on this end of the floor with additional repetition.

Most importantly though, Nance get and stay healthy to reach his full potential. Battling a knee injury since college, the young forward admitted that he was not at one hundred percent throughout last season.

While this can be seen as problematic, it is also quite exciting to think that the highlight plays he made last season were not his ceiling.

If Nance remains healthy and improves in a few areas, he will truly become a force to be reckoned with.

Worst Case Scenario

For Larry Nance Jr. the worst possible outcome for next season would be one marred by injury. Developing recurring injuries this early in his career could spell trouble for the rest of his career and would definitely hamstring his development in the present.

For Jr. the most important thing will be returning to full strength as additional injuries will make that considerably more difficult. It will be imperative for the Lakers medical team to closely monitor his health and conditioning as the season wears on.

Fortunately, barring a serious injury, Nance Jr.’s worst case scenario really isn’t that bad at all. Even if he fails to make any significant improvement in his game, he will still be the solid contributor he was last season. Even at the worst points of his rookie season he was an effective defender and rebounder with the capability to change the game with his athleticism.

While it would be disappointing to see him enter next season without significant development to his game, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Fortunately, Nance has already proven to be a hard worker and it seems unlikely that he will fail to improve when given the time to work on his game.

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If the Lakers can manage to keep him healthy, they may have found a massive steal in Larry Nance Jr. We’ll find out for sure next season.