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Let’s appreciate a Laker: Larry Nance Jr., and his emphatic dunks

Los Angeles had their own Larry Legend for two and a half glorious seasons, and his name was Larry Nance Jr.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers were on the clock. After the Lakers selected D’Angelo Russell with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, they still had two more picks: the No. 27 pick, which they received in the 2014 Jeremy Lin salary dump, and their own second-round pick.

While some of the biggest names in college basketball went off the board a few picks before the Lakers were set to pick again, including Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Duke’s Tyus Jones, there were still a few enticing options for them at No. 27, such as UCLA’s Kevon Looney and Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter. Hunter was an especially popular option among Lakers fans because of his reputation of being a good 3-point shooter.

To the surprise of many that day, the Lakers went in an entirely direction and drafted Larry Nance Jr., a four-year power forward out of Wyoming who was projected to go in the late second round. But while Nance wasn’t the expected or popular pick at the time, he turned many of his doubters into believers almost immediately.

Los Angeles Lakers Draft Picks Press Conference Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

After flying under the radar in the Lakers’ Las Vegas Summer League matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Nance was seemingly everywhere in their Summer League game against the Philadelphia 76ers. When Jahlil Okafor — the No. 3 overall pick in 2015 — beat Tarik Black with a spin move in the post, Nance was there to the block the shot off the backboard. After the game, he said he blocked the shot so hard that his hand hurt after, and when you watch the replay, it’s easy to see why.

A few seconds later, Nance set a hard screen for Russell, who gave it back to a cutting Nance for a monster slam dunk. The crowd erupted with “Larry” chants, and — at that very moment — he became a fan favorite.

Luckily for Lakers fans, that wouldn’t be the last time they’d Nance take flight like that — not even close. Let’s take a look back at some of Nance’s most memorable dunks, shall we?

5. Statue of Liberty in Los Angeles

Nance doesn’t posterize anyone in this dunk, but his homage to James Worthy’s Statue of Liberty dunk makes it a worthy inclusion.

4. The rub

This is one is kind of self explanatory (see: David West’s bald head).

3. A Festus Ezeli Festivus

There’s no evidence to support that Nance actually had any grievances to air out against Festus Ezeli, but the dunk itself is disrespectful.

2. K.O. for KD

Kevin Durant has 10 All-Star appearances, four scoring championships, two NBA championships, to Finals MVPs and a league MVP on Nance, but they’ve been on equal footing ever since this dunk. I mean, look at it.

1. Nance dunks Brook Lopez into a Lakers uniform

On Dec. 14, 2016, Larry Nance Jr. had arguably the dunk of the year on Brook Lopez. Six months later, Lopez was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Lakers. Coincidence? I think not. But seriously — I don’t know if Nance will have a better dunk than this in his career.

For his poster slams, his energy and intensity, Nance is a Laker worth appreciating. He also appreciates Lakers fans, apparently.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.

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