The Cavaliers put on quite a show in last night’s matchup against the Pistons, headlined by young star, Larry Nance Jr. In their 112-90 win over Detroit, Nance posted career highs in both points and rebounds, scoring 22 and hauling in 15 rebounds in his first start for the Cavs.
With Tristan out due to an injured right ankle for the next couple weeks, we will get to see a lot of Larry Nance Jr in the starting role. If Nance continues to perform at such a high level, he’s in prime position to take the job for good from the struggling Tristan Thompson.
Larry Nance has been the most consistent of the new additions to the Cavs roster. He’s brought an infectious energy on both ends of the court. His athleticism irritates even the larger players he is tasked with defending. Specifically last night, where Andre Drummond seemed visibly frustrated the whole game, even earning a technical foul for arguing with a ref after conceding yet another rebound to Nance. This tenacity down low is something the team lacked this season with Tristan.
While his athletic talents are no surprise to anyone who followed him on the Lakers, the development of a mid-range shot is new to even the Cavs coaching staff. Ty Lue stated after the game that he “didn’t know” Nance could shoot, since he never did in LA. Nance himself stated he never really felt comfortable taking that shot before coming to Cleveland.
The addition of a jump shot to his game would be a huge contribution to the Cavs offense. The floor spacing is the biggest knock when Tristan Thompson is on the court. Opposing teams will no longer be able to slack off the Cavs center to help on defense if Nance is a threat to pull up. This will open up the lane for guys like LeBron, George Hill and Jordan Clarkson and give them another player to feed when they drive. Not only there, but also in the pick and roll. All of which are areas where the Cavs have struggled on offense with Tristan out there.
The proposition of Nance starting is supported by analytics as well. It may be a small sample size, but the Cavs’ best lineups statistically since the trade deadline involve Larry Nance Jr.
Now, before we all declare Larry Nance Jr the new “King of Akron” after one performance, we need to keep in mind that Detroit is terrible. They haven’t won a road game in two months. I know it’s hard to keep our expectations within reason, I struggle with this myself, but we can’t expect this out of him every night. Still, if he’s able to consistently provide energy, rebounding and solid defense, it’s better than the alternative of Tristan Thompson.
P.S. This is such a cool story from Larry Nance Sr after the game.
As Larry Nance Sr. waited in the hallway following the best game of his son’s career, the former All-Star was approached by a young Cavaliers fan.
“I’m not Larry Nance Sr.,” he said, reaching down to shake hands with the youngster. “I’m Larry Nance Jr.’s father.”
Almost brought a tear to my eye. I hope my dad says this to my fans approaching him after they read my blogs.