The 2015 NBA Draft turned out to be a gift of youth and excitement for the Los Angeles Lakers. After a whirlwind of uncertainty, the team walked away with arguably the best player on the board (D’Angelo Russell). The team also had the 27th selection in the first round, and went the unconventional route. The team’s path led them to University of Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr.
ALSO ON HOOPSHABIT: The NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time
There was lots of mystery surrounding the selection on draft night based on the Lakers’ roster. With a need for shooting and athleticism, the team took the chance to add a big man that could cover floor on both ends.
More from Los Angeles Lakers
- NBA Trades: The Lakers bolster their frontcourt in this deal with the Pacers
- A surprise LeBron ranking should raise alarm bells for the Lakers
- Surprising Austin Reaves contract detail confirms Lakers got him for a steal
- Instant Grades for the Lakers’ unprecedented Anthony Davis extension
- Report: Lakers have big plans for recent top-10 pick amid roster shakeup
While Nance offers plenty of the latter, the team left guys like R.J. Hunter and Anthony Brown (selected later with the 34th pick) on the board. The Lakers’ need for spreading for floor seemed to momentarily be placed on the back-burner.
Lakers fans would soon see the reason that the team appears to be so high on Nance.
Nance has had his first taste of NBA action in the Las Vegas Summer League on both Friday and Saturday night. In a 68-60 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers, Nance had his imprints all over the game. He finished with eight points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks. A performance of this variety leaves plenty of optimism that Nance will be a big-time contributor on the Lakers’ interior.
The most impressive part of Nance’s game is his nose for the basketball. Late in the third quarter, Nance took his high-flying act to the offensive boards. It only took a few steps for Nance to gather himself and finish a Jordan Clarkson miss over a Sixers’ defender.
The defensive end of the basketball court also featured some SportsCenter Top 10-worthy efforts by Nance. Third overall selection Jahlil Okafor felt his wrath in an attempt to get to the rim.
Nance understands that these efforts are going to be his calling-card in the league. In a time that values players of his stature, Nance will have no problem carving out is niche. After Saturday’s victory, he spoke with LakersNation.com about his desired role:
"“‘I have energy, I’m athletic, and I’m going to lock you up on defense,’ Nance said, describing his game. Hustle players like Nance are always fan favorites, their grind always appreciated by their team’s faithful. But that doesn’t mean that was the type of player Nance always wanted to be.‘[ I don’t know] if kids at home are looking at energy guys like oh that’s my role, that’s what I want to be,’ said Nance. Nevertheless, he always ‘looked at energy as a skill …. you see guys like that popping up everywhere in the NBA. That’s kind of where I want to find myself here.'”"
All hopes are that Nance continues to learn the nuances of the NBA game. As he picks up the speed of the pros, he will continue to find believers in why the Lakers’ front office is high on him.
Being a first-round draft pick isn’t an easy feat, and being productive is just as difficult. Time will tell for Nance, but for now, fans will continue to enjoy his game. It’s always a good thing when the Lakers are providing the Showtime.
More from Hoops Habit
- The 5 most dominant NBA players who never won a championship
- 7 Players the Miami Heat might replace Herro with by the trade deadline
- Meet Cooper Flagg: The best American prospect since LeBron James
- Are the Miami Heat laying the groundwork for their next super team?
- Sophomore Jump: 5 second-year NBA players bound to breakout