If one thing was made clear in Larry Nance, Jr.’s appearance on the Basketball Insiders podcast on Tuesday, it’s that the sophomore forward could not be more pleased with the Los Angeles Lakers’ offseason. He’s enjoying working with his fellow young players, the team’s new head coach and free agency additions, as well as being pretty high on the team’s new rookies, Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac.
"I'm really impressed with both of the guys,” Nance, Jr. told host Alex Kennedy. “I didn't get to see much of college basketball last year, but obviously Brandon is a terrific talent, and he can do it in so many different ways, whether it's shooting or driving he's just so versatile with his wingspan and the way he can move and stuff like that.”
All of those skills are enough to make Nance, Jr. think it’s a little strange how fixated people are on Ingram’s weight, or more accurately in the case of the skinny small forward who has an alarm on his phone reminding him to eat, lack thereof.
“I think people are going to be impressed. He's not a baby. He's not a baby,” Nance, Jr. repeated for emphasis. “He's stronger than he looks, and I think he's going to be really impressive, whether it's this year, next year, or two years down the line I don't know.”
Nance, Jr. knows Ingram is still just 18-years old, and while he may not think Ingram is a “baby,” he does think people should understand he still has plenty of growing to do.
“What I looked like at 18 compared to what I look like now, come on. You can't predict what a kid's going to be at right now,” said Nance, Jr. “I think he's going to be really good sooner rather than later, but he's a heck of a talent."
Nance, Jr. is no less impressed with the player whose Wikipedia-reported death he avenged in Las Vegas Summer League.
"Big Zubac is my guy. He's hilarious. His English is really spotty still, but he's so excited to be a part of everything,” said Nance, Jr. “I had never heard of him before we picked him, but he's really good.”
As a defensive minded center, Zubac is also the exact type of player Nance, Jr. says he can see himself fitting well alongside moving forward.
“At summer league he had to be one of the most efficient players there,” praised Nance, Jr. "He was efficient, he was a shot blocker, he was physical, he's a joy to play with because he's got your back. If you get beat, you know he's going to be there to contest the shot and stuff like that, so I look forward to learning and growing with him, and I think if I got to play with him in the second unit, that would be a pretty good defensive rotation there."
The Lakers haven’t had a whole lot of good defensive lineups over the last several years, so if he and Zubac can help create such a pairing it would surely be a welcome change for the organization.
However, even if he can’t do so on the court in the regular season just yet, Nance, Jr. did joke he’s looking forward to Zubac lightening his load off of it.
“I don't know if Brandon is my rookie, but Zubac is definitely carrying my bags.”
All quotes transcribed via the Basketball Insiders podcast. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.