The Los Angeles Lakers were one of the ten-worst shooting teams on 3-pointers last season, with their 34.6 percent conversion rate ranking 22nd in the NBA.
The team ranked 19th in attempts per game with 25.7, so at least they didn’t overexpose their weakness, but with the way the modern NBA is going they would certainly be better off if they could attempt and make more threes.
Lakers forward Larry Nance, Jr. wants to help the team on both fronts next season. Nance marginally increased his 3-point attempts down the stretch of last season, shooting 1.1 per game in his last 15 games after launching just 0.6 per game over the course of the season.
Nance did shoot slightly better over those final 15 games (improving from 27.8 percent to 31.3), but his attempts and percentage increases wouldn’t appear to be highly significant. He told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register that all that’s changed this offseason:
“The past couple of years, we’ve had four guys on the court and I’m the one you don’t have to respect too much from 3,” Nance said. “That changes this summer. I’m really looking forward to having guys close out on me. Once you close out on me, then the whole next progressions starts. Then I get my feet down and we get to show them some stuff.”
Some of that “stuff” would presumably include the vicious dunks Nance has become so beloved for. If his 3-point shot improves to even league average it would do wonders for a Lakers’ offense that ranked just 24th in the league in overall efficiency. Improvement from deep would also benefit Nance personally with opportunities to attack the rim when defenses close out too hard.
Those dominant poster dunks will have to wait until the regular season, although Nance has found one person to dominate, and it’s a teammate that often ends up on the wrong end of his anecdotes (again via Medina):
Zubac, a center entering his second season, has bragged about beating his teammate in head-to-head 3-point shooting workouts this summer, but Nance considers that fake news.
“What competition? That’s not just me talking trash,” Nance said. “Ask any one of our coaches. It’s brutal. He’s not allowed to shoot on my court.”
“When we shoot 11 spots and he gets beat in all of them, you’re not allowed back,” Nance said. “Until he redeems himself, he’s not allowed at my basket.”
Enter this in the pantheon of Nance’s roasts of Zubac, whom he has previously called his “son” and talked of dominating in FIFA.
If Zubac could “redeem himself” — and both he and Nance become capable 3-point shooters — it would give the Lakers’ likely bench lineup stretchy, five-out options for lineups that still had traditional size. Both players will still have to prove they can shoot a league average percentage from distance, and such prowess would significantly raise the ceiling of Nance, Zubac and the Lakers moving forward.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.