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Larry Nance, Jr. says he wants ‘to be in Defensive Player of the Year discussions’

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The third-year forward has lofty goals for his career moving forward.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance, Jr. told the media following his exit interview with Lakers President Magic Johnson, general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Luke Walton that his discussion with the team’s brain trust centered on what has mostly been considered an area of expertise for him.

“We talked a lot about how off-ball defense was an areas of strength for me,” Nance said. “But where I want to get better and I hope to get better is individual, on-ball defense.”

Nance said he wants to help the whole team improve defensively, and he has lofty goals for his own skills.

“I want to be in Defensive Player of the Year discussions. I think I have that ability,” Nance said, adding that he’s watched film of Draymond Green and Kawhil Leonard as he attempts to get there.

He thinks the ceiling is just as high for the rest of the Lakers’ young core.

“I think the sky is the limit,” Nance said. “You look at what we have, and we’ve got every position and then some.”

To reach those goals, Nance is even willing to go a non-traditional route for a first-round pick in their third-year: a trip to Las Vegas Summer League.

“Obviously if they want me to play, I’m all in,” Nance said, before adding that the front office has not asked him to do so. “Either way I’ll be in the gym.”

Nance told the media he plans to spend “lots of hours” in that gym working on his 3-point shooting, something he felt more “confidence” in after Walton gave him the green light to shoot them in games. He also hopes to improve his back-to-the-basket game by working with his father in coming weeks.

Nance hopes to use those summer workouts to propel the Lakers towards a better season next year than the one they had in 2016-17.

“The fact that we finished this season so strong, I feel really good going into the offseason and how that’s going to fall out for us,” Nance said.

All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. All quotes transcribed via Periscope. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our thoughts on the season below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.