When this season started, no one expected the Lakers to be a team that was competing for a playoff berth. Now that we’re almost halfway through the season, nothing much has changed, except that now we can see that the future is looking brighter than expected for the purple and gold.
This years Lakers roster is made up of a mix of seasoned veterans combined with a heap of rookies, and not too much in-between. They did make some good moves in the off season drawing in Roy Hibbert from Indiana, and Lou Williams from Toronto, but the most exciting thing about this team is the talent of the young players currently lighting up the court.
In the current starting lineup we have been seeing a number of first and second year players regularly taking the floor, with nine of the fifteen players on their active list today having less than three years experience in the league. We’ve all heard about Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, but there’s a few other interesting players on this Lakers roster that have slipped under the radar.
One young Laker who is no stranger to the spotlight of the NBA is Larry Nance Jr. The son of former Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavalier great Larry Nance, Larry Jr has been grown up around the best players in the country, and was always destined to end up in the league. After putting up some impressive numbers during his time in college at Wyoming, Nance Jr was selected with 27th pick in last years draft, sending him to the Lakers.
After missing the start of the season with a knee injury, Nance Jr quickly found his way onto the court with the Lakers playing in 35 of their games so far, and racking up an impressive 20 starts. Even coming on a knee injury, it was immediately clear that Nance Jr was going to be an exciting player to watch. His athleticism has already made him a must watch player on the squad, and his ability to throw down a viscous dunk has made him a regular feature in the top plays for the team.
Tonight we saw Nance Jr matched up against one of the hottest players in the league right now in Draymond Green. He limited Green to only 7 points while picking up a couple of huge blocks on the dominant big man in the paint.
When asked about how he planned on shutting down Green going into the game Nance Jr told us:
“My goal was just to keep it out of his hands because he’s a menace with the ball when he gets it. So that was my mentality coming into it, just get the ball out of his hands as much as possible.”
On sticking with the Warriors for three quarters, Nance Jr said:
“It’s tough because you know that any lapse in anything, defense, offense, and they will just take advantage of it, so you’ve got to really be on top of your stuff throughout the entire game.”
Having so many young players on a squad could cause problems with player development, but Nance tells us that the Lakers have done a great job making sure that everyone is given the mentoring needed to take the next step with the team.
“You look and we have a bunch of young guys and all of them are playing, so I mean, i’m happy with it and we’re all getting minutes and experience and getting to play with a legend like Kobe” .
“You know they (The Warriors) built their team over time. They didn’t do a whole lot of trading so I definitely think that that’s something that we could look to model off. We have a bunch of young guys, a bunch of talented guys, so I think the way they build their team from the ground up is the way we want to do it here.”
In a season where the Kobe Bryant farewell tour has taken over the locker room, this has given some of the younger members on this team a chance to be exposed to the media circus following the team around the country that normally a young player would not get to experience.
“It’s pretty crazy. I think the young guys here are getting a little bit of a crash course early because of 24. It’s been crazy but it’s been really cool to see how much people adore him and view him as a legend. This was a very special night with Jerry West having a special message for him, so it was very cool, it’s an honor being able to put on the same jersey as him and call him a team mate, it’s definitely something that i’ll never forget”.
Lakers fans, your team might not be going to be taking part in the playoffs this year, but don’t worry, the future is looking very bright with Larry Nance Jr and this group of exiting and talented young players.
Feature Image: SportingNews
Story Images: LaTimes and RantSports