Larry Nance, Jr. is already logging minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers, and in his brief time on the court he's shown positive things. If you want some small sample size evidence, the Lakers are outscoring opponents by 15.1 points per 100 possessions in his 33 total minutes over two games, according to NBA.com. Clearly that's a skewed figure, but it's also indicative that things have gone well when he's on the floor.
Nance getting minutes off the bench was one of the first rotation changes Lakers head coach Byron Scott made, and the returns have already been solid, even if it's under a limited period. Where Larry's making a noticeable impact is on defense, where the Lakers are rebounding and getting stops with great success while he's on the floor.
He's collecting a staggering 32.3 percent of all available defensive rebounds while he's on the floor, second-best marks on the team aside from Robert Sacre's four-minute stint. Finding minutes for a through-the-roof leaper who does a good job of tracking rebounds like he's shown already definitely has its merits.
This clearly jumps out while watching Nance on the floor. This rebound, in particular, was impressive. He follows it all the way and grabs onto it like a heat seeking missile:
On that note, the Lakers' defense has been at its best when Nance is on the floor. They allow a team-best 80.8 points per 100 possessions while Larry's on the floor. That's obviously influenced by how little time he's actually played thus far, but again, the film shows us how he's helped influence those numbers. His perimeter defense in this defensive sequence at the end of the first quarter is a great example of that.
First, he switches onto the ball-handler in a pick-and-roll and deflects from the paint easily:
Then he follows it up with this great defensive shift:
Then does it again, forcing his man to pick up his dribble:
That's impressive for a first year player in his second game ever, and is way more indicative of what he can potentially do for the Lakers than any number can tell us for the time being.
If he continues showing things like this, Nance should continue earning minutes ahead of the more experienced players in the depth chart at power forward. The Lakers' are making immediate use of their second first-round pick, and the returns have been incredibly favorable thus far. It's a small victory, but one worth keeping track of as we go through the first stretch of a long process.