With a young group like the Los Angeles Lakers’ core, a major key to their growth will be developing the type of chemistry that leaves them wanting to be around each other and wanting to work hard for each other. According to Larry Nance, Jr. during an appearance on the Basketball Insiders Podcast with Alex Kennedy, the team is well on their way to doing so.
"We've really come together both on the court and off the court,” said Nance, Jr. “Just learning each other's play type, playing in pick up games, two-on-two, one-on-one, three-on-three, and just kind of getting a feel for each other this offseason.
But it’s not just on the court where Nance, Jr. says he, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Anthony Brown, and Brandon Ingram are developing chemistry.
“I think off the court is really where we've improved,” said Nance, Jr. “We do a lot of team dinners, team building stuff like that to where I think all of us are comfortable enough to call another one and just say 'hey what's up, let's go grab something to eat' or 'let's go hit the golf course' or something like that. It's a very good relationship we all have with each other, and I think we're all geared up to be around each other for the next couple years."
Nance, Jr. including Russell in that group might come as a surprise to some that didn’t watch the obvious on-court synergy between the two at Las Vegas Summer League. Much was made last season of the idea that other players wouldn’t trust Russell or want to play with him in the wake of the leaked video incident involving him and Nick Young, but Nance, Jr. doesn’t see that as a problem moving forward.
"That's a situation that had to be handled between two men and it has been. I think we're all just ready to move forward, including everybody involved,” said Nance, Jr. “It was just a bad year, and we'll just chalk it up to that. You live and learn, and get past it and move on.
“But as far as D'Angelo gaining trust, I can't speak for everybody, but I haven't lost any for him. I went through summer league with him, and that's still one of my closest friends on the team,” Nance, Jr. continued. “Mistakes happen to everybody, you know I had a huge blunder at the beginning of last year, if you recall [involving some regrettable tweets about Kobe Bryant]. It happens to everybody, and yeah it shouldn't have happened, but I think we're all just ready to move past it and the more D'Angelo shows us on the court and as a leader in the locker room and stuff like that, he's already gained my trust and respect and I think he's definitely on his way of righting those wrongs and washing the situation away."
If the Lakers are going to build around this core group, that was going to be a potentially thorny issue the team had to navigate, but it appears to have already done so and more. In fact, Nance, Jr.’s comments make it seem like the only people who are going to enjoy this young core growing together more than their fans are the members of the young core themselves.
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