On Larry Nance Jr., Fit, and Winning Long Term

Darius Soriano —  January 9, 2016

When Larry Nance Jr. first became part of the Lakers’ rotation, we looked at what he was doing to earn minutes and why we thought he would stick around for the remainder of the season. Most of that analysis wasn’t based on his calling card of defense, but instead looked at what he was doing offensively as a capable mid-range jumpshooter and roll man in the pick and roll.

A sampling of what we wrote back in early November:

Instead, then, let’s just focus on the fact that he has shown the ability to hit shots from the spots on the floor a power forward in today’s NBA will need to if he wants to be a viable offensive player — especially if he’s not a shot creator.

Against the Nets Nance hit two baseline jumpers, both from around 18 feet. This is the spot on the floor where, when your team is running a pick and roll, the weak side big will almost always camp out (if he’s not a three point shooter) to act as a release valve when his man helps in the paint. And then there is the top of the key and elbow area, which are the key spots on the floor where big men float to in pick and pop actions after setting a screen.

Even more important, though, is that corner three pointer he hit against the Magic.

Since that time Nance has earned a more prominent role as the starting PF, displacing last year’s lottery pick Julius Randle in the process. And while Nance hasn’t shot any threes since becoming a starter, his offense is still a key aspect of why he’s getting burn. Here is Nance’s shot chart from his last 18 games, when he was first inserted into the first five:

Nance Starter

This chart tells a similar story to the one in our post from earlier in the season. Nance his proving to be a viable jumpshooter (especially from the left side of the floor) and a very good finisher at the rim. Nance’s explosiveness and ability to play above the rim produces not only highlight plays, but ones that never make the reel simply because defenses sometimes don’t even rotate to try and contest him.

While his finishing ability (especially outside the paint) is proving to be beyond what many thought he could provide at this stage of his career, what is becoming more and more evident is the polish, confidence, and poise he’s been playing with to take advantage of the opportunity he’s been given. Further, the little things and the nature of his game is what is allowing him to flourish.

Said another way, Nance is combining several key traits which allow him to be the round peg in a round hole the Lakers have been looking for to help provide lineup balance. Consider the following:

  • Though he’s starting, Nance is posting a usage rate of only 13. Of the Lakers’ 9 rotation players, this the lowest mark, trailing even Hibbert (13.2) and Bass (13.3).
  • If using rebound rate as the indicator, Nance (18.3) is the team’s second best defensive rebounder behind Julius Randle (29.8).
  • Nance shows very good defensive awareness and understanding of principles. He plays with good angles and is athletic enough to help, recover, and then contest shots. He also has good hands, moves well, and knows how to use his length.

Nance was a 4 year college player and, after just celebrating his 23rd birthday, is nearly two full years older than Randle. That extra seasoning shows in all the little things he does well, in his better grasp of who he is as a player, and how to translate that understanding into an effective role at this level. This doesn’t make Nance better than Randle* (though he is defensively), but it does make him, at this point in their respective careers, a cleaner fit next to the ball dominant, shot creating wings the Lakers have built around.

What this means for the future isn’t known. The Lakers are in no rush to make a decision on either player and having them both on the team creates lineup flexibility and offers versatility at the PF spot many teams would welcome. Byron Scott recently said he might explore playing both players together, either at SF & PF or at PF and C. I’d much prefer the latter combination (especially with a low usage shooter at SF, but the only guy who fits that bill is Anthony Brown), but that’s an argument for another day.

Ultimately, though, Nance is showing to be the type of player winning teams often have in their ranks. He’s smart, possesses good enough skill, plays within his role, can make mid-range shots, finish inside, and understands how to play good defense. The Lakers aren’t yet a winning team, but getting players like this into their program is necessary for any long play which involves success.

For the 27th pick in the 1st round, this is quite the find. This year’s draft was particularly deep — there are multiple players drafted late in and after the lottery who I really like — but getting a “hit” at that spot is a major coup for a team strapped for young talent like the recent versions of the Lakers.

*Randle’s recent struggles offer reason for concern in the short term, but I still really believe in him as a prospect long term. Where we talk about Nance’s polish, Randle simply isn’t there yet and I think we are reaching the point in the current season where his inability to play last year is showing up.

Forget for a moment his shift in role. Randle is currently playing on instincts and using his physical tools to survive and the league is catching up to him. There are flashes of making great reads and seeing plays develop in advance, but for the most part he is reacting and playing with too much tunnel vision. Straight line drives, bulling for position, and playing with ferocity will always have a place in a league where physicality has great value. But the subtleties of the game, playing with better angles, and finessing a play when necessary also lead to success. 

Randle, as of now, hasn’t had enough court time to learn and/or incorporate much of the latter into his game and it is showing — both in good and bad ways. For all the times he’s attacking the ball for out of area and contested rebounds, he’s also picking up fouls via charges and over-aggression. 

After a summer of rehab and getting his body to where he wants it, this should be somewhat expected. Hopefully, this offseason can be about further skill development and more on-court time refining his game. If it can be, I think major strides can be made. It’s an open secret Randle works incredibly hard and is driven to be the best version of himself he can be. When players possess that trait, I think it’s only a matter of when, not if, they find their game.

So, do not take Nance’s polish as an indictment on Randle. As noted, Nance is nearly two full years older than Randle. In two years if Randle is the same player he is now, I’d be pretty shocked.

Darius Soriano

Posts Twitter Facebook

38 responses to On Larry Nance Jr., Fit, and Winning Long Term

  1. Perfect analysis on the differences between the two. Randle just need more seasoning.

  2. Loved the article, one of your best assessments IMO.

    I would love to see a bit of Randle/Nance out there as well. There are so few dominant centers out there to even worry about anymore. Nance/Randle rebound well enough that should not be an issue, unless we are up against Cousins or something. I have little patience for watching HIbbert play, he’s a rental on a team that is really bad with him on the floor. Why not play the younger guys more that might actually be part of our future? Have Hibbert be the back-up Center, Sacre can be a permanent cheerleader.

    Playing Randle/Nance together would help Randle get more court time, I don’t care what type of funk he is in, he needs minutes! It’s not as if we are going to be making the playoffs. Who cares if we win 3 more games this year?! DAR/Randle need minutes, I want to see them on the court 25mpg all the time. I don’t care how awesome Lou Williams was last night, I want our “rooks” out there. I want our future to develop, Williams will not be a laker when this team is good again. Hopefully they get some trade value for him, and replace him with a guy that plays good defense. Again, we need to fill the holes in the dam with defensive players, not guys like Lou/Swaggy who can teach them how to streak shoot. I would love to see them pick up something this year, and not have to wait until summer.

  3. The FO deserves credit for Nance Jr., and I gave it to them a week or so ago when I talked about his USG/polish (think I said that here; know I did at another site). At the same time, though, we don’t know–and won’t know for awhile–if the Lakers would have been better off taking a project like Looney or a stash like Hernangomez. I would also suggest that taking Nance Jr. is another data point against the the stealth tank narrative . As a four-year college guy with an NBA pedigree, Nance Jr. was a help-now pick.

    All that said, I definitely give the FO credit for seeing something in him.

  4. I wrote awhile ago about Nance’s subtle excellence.
    He seems like a good team player without too much ego – and his 4-year collegiate career gives him a maturity and seasoning that sets him a bit above some others. His pedigree as an NBA player’s son shows nicely.

    Randle’s game, while flawed at the moment, has bright spots too. He’s a far better rebounder than I expected him to be.
    I think Randle would put himself in excellent position to grow and excel if he’d
    1. focus on getting every rebound he can,
    2. improving his defense, and
    3. Try to find the open man
    He should forget about trying to score for awhile. He’s forcing tough shots, turning the ball over, and being called for too many offensive fouls.
    If he could focus on #1 – #3 for now he can still be of great value to the team.

    I’d recommend he work on his shooting, either between games or in the off-season, before he thinks about scoring 20 points per game.

  5. Randle is not a leaper but he is strong and incredibly quick for a man his size. It is way too early to give up on him as a defensive player. Great individual defenders must be strong enough to avoid being overpowered and quick enough to say in front of their men. After that, it is mostly a matter of determination and effort. Right now, Randle is effectively a rookie and makes rookie mistakes. This should not surprise anyone. But Randle plays hard and will get better.

    Right now, Nance is more polished as a defender and is a leaper. He makes fewer mistakes on both ends of the floor. Who knows what will happen in the future but it is not obvious to me that Nance will be able to keep Randle on the bench long term. And they may be able to play together. Which would be nice.

  6. I like the back story that Kupchak’s son had a recruiting visit to Wyoming. That led to Mitch being told about Nance. You never know where the tips will come from. Nance’s own story of overcoming Crohn’s disease and being an elite athlete would make him a Pete Carroll kind of player.

  7. When one compares the defensive acumen of Nance, Jr. vs. Randle, it is important to look at their college careers. Nance is a 4 year college player who went to a school where the coach preached defense. It shows. Randle on the other hand, attends the basketball factory of Kentucky. His coach is a snake oil salesman: John Calipari. This coach knows Randle is one and done and gone with a perfunctory basketball education but a lottery pedigree and the money associated with it. Only problem is that his skills are unhoned because he only spent one year honing them. That’s a big problem for the game itself and a coach like Byron in particular. The training that Randle should have gotten in college, he must now get at the pro level. He is an unfinished product and he needs a lot of coaching to help him reach his potential. Unfortunately, Scott is probably not the man to do it. Julius has got to take a step back and play as if he were the second round pick with something to prove, because, indeed he does have a lot of learning to do and a heckuva lot to prove in the NBA.

  8. I of course am not a gambler but I would put a large portion of my soon to be lottery win that Nance will be a better pro then Randle.

    So there.

  9. Incisive writeup Darius.

    Many probably believe that Randle and Nance are an either or proposition.

    As you mentioned, Nance’s 4 years of college experience embued him with a polish that Randle has yet to achieve.

    Who knows how the bars will line up, once they reach their peaks?

    I for one hope that both fill nitch needs for our team against different opponents, and if God forbid, in case of injury.

  10. Excellent write-up, Darius. Thank you.

    I’ve noticed that one of the big differences between Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson on the one hand and D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle on the other hand is consistency. Nance and JC are far more steady, consistent, and reliable, day-in and day-out. (In fact, Clarkson may be the most consistent player on the team.) DAR and Randle, as exciting as they often can be, are up and down like yo-yos.

    I’m sure this is a matter of age and maturity. Russell and Randle are 19 and 21, respectively. Clarkson and Nance, Jr. are both 23.

    My point is this: with maturity comes consistency. Russell and Randle will get there. It may take a few years. But consistency is not beyond their reach. We just have to let them develop.

    Finally, an experimental line up that I would like to see this year would be the following:

    Center — Tarik Black (age: 24)
    PF — Julius Randle (age: 21)
    SF — Larry Nance, Jr. / back up: Anthony Brown (ages: Nance, 23; Brown, 23)
    SG — Jordan Clarkson (age: 23)
    PG — D’Angelo Russell (age 19)

    I don’t expect Byron to do this. (Too many young guys on the floor at one time and, besides, Black is, as we all know, in exile.) But it would be fun to see this for 8-10 games. Why? Because it would be a glimpse into the future, that’s why. And isn’t that what this season should be all about?

  11. Mid W
    I second that lineup.
    Exactly the group I’d select.
    Who knows? It could happen.
    Only our trusty tank commander knows.
    Or-
    DAR
    JC
    KOBE
    RANDLE
    NANCE

  12. On seeing the good play Nance has been putting up late, I realized about what Mitch said about finding seniors in the late 1st round, early 2nd round as great-value picks. Nance is indeed a good-great athlete and is flourishing under a broken system. Thing with this kind of player is is that they flourish in nearly every system.

    What I’d like to see evolve is for us to play Randle and Nance together. While Randle’s stock has been falling hard as of late, I believe he can be utilized more efficiently as a center rather than a PF. Yes he is undersized, but that’s something we need to atleast give a look at.

    Hard to discount though, the good play Bass has been putting up lately.

  13. “Nance was a 4 year college player and, after just celebrating his 23rd birthday, is nearly two full years older than Randle”. That is the main thing for me, Four years playing in the NCAA made a lot of difference, if Nance was a one and done guy he wouldn’t be the player he is today, i like Nance and im getting more sold everyday that he is part of the Lakers future, but if we compare both Randle at Nance at 20 years old, Randle would be the best player by far, Randle is more raw and needs to improve a lot of things, immaturity more than ability is his main obstacle, we all have seen all the potential he has…

  14. How in the hell Nance can be a center? he is shorter and smaller than Randle.If he develops a 3 point shot in the future he could be a pretty good sf and could complement Randle inside/ mid range game which i asume he will work hard to improve, i would play Tarik at center but BS hate him i guess…

  15. I, for one, woudn’t like to see the Randle/Nance combination. I don’t believe that any of them can play SF and small ball is still an illusion. People need to understand that while offenses are faster and more spread out, the only teams that won playing a version of small ball had Lebron James and Steph Curry to solve any offensive woes and amazing wing and post defenders. I would say that Bosh and Draymond Green are the perfec fit for those teams as you don’t find many players in the league that can provide what they do. Nance and Randle are not like that. They are pure PF’s that most likely can’t share the floor together for long periods of time. Previously, I said that I would rather have a vet fighting for minutes with Randle than a rookie, as it would be better for Randle’s development. I stand by my words if the Lakers believe that Randle is their future at PF. If not, than it would be better to trade him and keep Nance as he is and will be a solid rotation player. And that’s the main issue here: is Randle an All Star in the making or not? The Lakers can obviously keep both, but there won’t be enough minutes available at PF for them to reach their potential.

    So, I can see any of them as a starter for years to come, but they would both require different type of players to round up the starting lineup. Nance definitely needs to have wings or a center who can create for him. Randle needs wings and a center who can cover up for him on defense, assuming he develops an outside shot. Let’s just wait to see their development until the end of the season and see what route the Lakers go…

  16. Another insightful post, thanks Darius. “Randle is playing on instincts ……” Perfectly said.

    LLKs college comparison of the two is very interesting and shed’s a lot of light on current minutes for both. I am very happy we have both guys and hope they stay with us. I’m with tank you, Lou had a monster night, but I want to see the young guys play MORE.

    Hibbert….can’t believe he is only 29. His game is so hard to watch most nights and I’m just not feelin his attitude. I’m sure he is a nice guy, but after reading this article by LNjr: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/nba-rookie-diary-larry-nance-jr-lakers/
    I kinda don’t like the guy even more…..2nd highest paid on the team? Just goes to show what 7 feet are worth in the NBA.

    Would love to see TB back, I’ve been campaigning for him for a while, it feels like the D’antoni days when all the sudden a guy disappears….I gues that’s normal.

    I do prefer J C s lineup over MWs at this point, I will support Kobe until game 80 is over. He deserves all the support the FO has shown him and I am proud the our organization chose loyalty over business for arguably the GOAT……will it hurt us in the long run? I do not think so….as weird as Stern’s nixing the Paul trade was, The Lakers are much too important of a franchise to be down for long…but then again, there’s the Knicks.

  17. Renato has a point there…

  18. I find this sort of thinking leads to overvalueing athleticism. Such as Mudiay is a great athlete and if you teach him to be Russell then woah player for the ages. This isn’t how things usually go. I am expecting Randle to eventually figure things out on offense. I’m far less optimistic about his defense. Nance is a well rounded guy that is easy to fit into a line up. With Randle you need to have guys who can cover up his flaws. This is why I don’t consider him a cornerstone. He is difficult to build around.

  19. Effectively, Randle has less than half a season of pro ball and was a one and done player in college. It is way too early to declare he will never be a good defender. He won’t be a rim protector. He can still be an excellent defender.

    But Nance could get better as well. He is still recovering from back and knee injuries as well as the Chrohn’s disease. He also figures to learn the nba game and may improve his shooting. His father came into the league as a physical freak but became an all-star once he learned to shoot. Junior might do the same.

  20. The reason to put Nance at 5 and Randle at 4 is that Nance’s leaping ability makes him more effective coming off the ball as the last line of defense while Randle’s quickness makes him effective as an on ball defender or if he needs to switch to a guard on a pick and roll.

  21. I just don’t see Nance or Randle as a potential 5. They’d get eaten alive by Boogie Cousins, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Hassan Whiteside, even Dwight Howard, and others. They just don’t have the girth or the length to handle the center position on a consistent basis.

    Golden State gets away with small ball not because that is an inherently better way to play basketball but because they have these snipers (especially Steph and Klay) firing away from outside and shooting 45% from 3-point range. You could put a 2-foot dwarf at center on that team and get away with it. The Lakers just don’t have those kinds of weapons.

    Regarding playing Nance and Randle at the 3 and 4 at the same time: I think that makes a lot of sense. Nance is 6-8, 224. That’s not too big to play the 3. He’s mobile, runs the court beautifully, and can probably guard both positions effectively.

    Furthermore, the Lakers are going to have to figure out how to get both players sufficient minutes in the future (next year, not this year). Randle will ultimately require 32-34 minutes; Nance will need 26-28 minutes, possibly more. So, if we take the lesser of those numbers, we arrive at 58 minutes. The problem is that there are not 58 minutes in a game. Therefore, we have to figure out how to play Randle and Nance together for a good 10-12 minutes a game at the same time so as to get full value from them. Otherwise, if we leave them both at the 4, they’ll be canibalizing each other’s minutes. Not good.

    I think it’s worth a shot trying to develop Nance’s game at the 3 a little bit. It can’t hurt. And it could, for all we know, develop into a devastating combination.

    Finally, I really want to see Tarik Black get minutes. It’s time. He could — possibly — be a part of the future.

  22. Good write up D!! Nice follow up posts guys.

    Mid, TOTALLY agree with your line up suggestion. That’s what I’ve been hoping to see as well (as you point out though we will NEVER see this happen!!) . Tarik Black needs to get some minutes. Byron’s moronic reasoning that he doesn’t play BECAUSE HE IS A LOW PERCENTAGE POST PLAYER is a JOKE!!!! So NOWWWW Byron listens to STATS ONLY—JUST with Black’s situation!!?!?!?!? Cmon man!!!! And what is ROY HIBBERT then???——- a HIGH PERCENTAGE post player!?!!?!?!?!?!?! He SUCKS in the post!!! He NEVER scores on his post ups and an amputee could shoot better Hook Shots for Gods sake!!!!!!!! Even his “Mr. Verticality” D is overrated/nonexistent at this point!!

    I think that Nance can guard the 3. Its not IDEAL, but he is smart enough and versatile enough to cover most 3s. When he starts getting more REF respect, he will be allowed more leeway on D and he will only get better. He’s smart and as Darius points out, he knows how to maximaze his length and athleticism. That said, I DON’T think he could handle the 5……I don’t think he has the physicality to match most 5s even those who are undersized. I think he’s a better 3-4 than a 4-5.

    Black, Nance, and Randall together would be a three headed rebounding BEAST against a team with no legit Center IMO.

  23. ALL POINTS BULLETIN!!!!

    Putting out an APB for old SNARKY GEORGE!!!!
    Snarky, we need ya in the FB&G dude!!!! Pelton has a new INsider article today on Julius Randle!! It would be right on topic with today’s post as it relates to Randle!!

    Snarky George!!!!! Help out the FB&G brothers!!!!

  24. Hey Mid, you beat me to it on Nance as a NON 5!! GMTA!!

    Can SEAN PENN please land an interview with Jeannie Buss sometime soon!?!??!!? It seems that would be the only way to get the REAL ANSWERS on the FO!!!

    We need some REAL PROFESSIONAL to give her the TOUGH questions!!!!
    Get her Spicoli!!!!!!!!!

  25. People tend to forget Goldenstate has Bogut to match up with centers who might otherwise cause them problems.

  26. The Nets fired Head Coach Lionel Hollins today and “reassigned” GM Billy King. The Nets, of course, have a better record that the Lakers. But Byron, remarkably, continues to hang on:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nets-fire-coach-lionel-hollins–reassign-gm-billy-king-174009932.html

  27. Thanks Mid, I wonder if this indicates that Nets are trying not to tank, or are using this as an excuse to go all out for the tank?

  28. Kev, Boston Gets the Nets pick REGARDLESS………..I see the firing as pointless at this time. Much like Byron’s would be……….

    Once we beat the Pelicans this week, the notion of keeping our pick this year is going to get awful uncomfortable…….

  29. Thanks Clay !

  30. I’ve got bad news for the tank commanders.

    Brooklyn is a mess. Don’t be shocked if the Lakers pass them in the over all standings. Eventually the Lakers could pass New Orleans, too.

    With so many young players on the team, if they start to figure things out, anything could happen. Anything. (Like winning a few games.)

    Don’t count too heavily on the Lakers keeping their draft pick. You could be disappointed.

    I’m not stating a preference. Just being realistic.

  31. As requested. Done on my iphone so apologies for formatting issues.

    Are Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson future Lakers stars

    Chad FordKevin Pelton

    For the past several years, ESPN Insider’s Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton have provided the kind of discussions that are happening in front offices around the NBA, where scouts and statistical experts are breaking down NBA prospects using their “eyes, ears and numbers.” This year those conversations are extending beyond the NBA Draft to include NBA prospects in their rookie or sophomore years in the NBA.

    Why isn’t Julius Randle a top-10 sophomore?

    Chad Ford: Last week we tackled our top 10 sophomores and — controversially, if you believe our Twitter followers — left Lakers forward Julius Randle out of our top 10.

    Randle was the No. 7 pick in the draft in 2014 and was regarded as a top-two or top-three pick before his freshman season at Kentucky. At least one draft expert even said he’d take Randle No. 1 over Andrew Wiggins.

    Randle is off to a solid start on his first real season (he had a season-ending injury on opening night of his rookie campaign), averaging 11 points per game and 9.5 rebounds for the Lakers. But he’s shooting only 41 percent from the field and has played questionable defense all season — leading head coach Byron Scott to sit him often in favor of rookie Larry Nance Jr.

    Scott and Randle have sparred in the media in recent days, and Scott said Randle needs to grow up. Randle says he feels as if he’s being singled out on a team that has been filled with poor performers.

    So, Kevin, why did you leave him out of your top 10?

    Kevin Pelton: Because I remembered Jusuf Nurkic qualified for the list despite not playing all season. Randle was originally in my 10th spot, so he wasn’t far off.

    I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his rebounding. He’s pulling down 29.5 percent of all available defensive rebounds, putting him in the league’s top 10. Perhaps more important, the Lakers have been much better on the glass with Randle on the court, suggesting he’s not just stealing rebounds from his teammates. Add in Randle’s ability to initiate the fast break after grabbing a rebound and that’s useful.

    Randle’s issues have actually been more on the offensive end. He’s shooting only 41.3 percent on 2-point attempts and his shot chart shows his problems, from both close range and further out. Randle is barely making half of his attempts within three feet (51.2 percent), struggling to score over length. Per NBAminer.com, the 35 times he has had his shot blocked put him in the league’s top 20 in that undesirable category.

    And outside 10 feet, Randle has shot 23.1 percent (21-91), according to Basketball Reference.

    Chad, is there hope for him to become an efficient scorer?

    Will Randle improve his weaknesses?

    Ford: So, in short, you’re a Laker hater.

    I too had Randle just outside my top 10. He was the next guy in. But I don’t think that will pacify Lakers fans. They want a superstar to build around and Randle shows enough flashes as a rebounder and ball handler in the open court to give them hope. I think that the long-term hope is Randle will start hitting jump shots. In high school, scouts thought of him as a very advanced offensive player with the ability to stretch the floor and put it on the deck.

    Kentucky primarily used Randle in the low post, but his lack of elite size and explosiveness meant he struggled to finish. Shot blockers loved him in college.

    So I think the hope has been that Randle would thrive in the NBA, given the predilection for 4s who can space the floor. But as you’ve pointed out, not only is he continuing to struggle at the rim, he’s also missing almost 80 percent of his shots from beyond 10 feet.

    Randle is going to have to improve at least one of those numbers to be an effective player in the NBA. Given his size limitations, I don’t think it will be him scoring at the rim.

    But I’m also concerned about him on the defensive end. Other than rebounding, I don’t see much effort. I’m sure you remember wringing your hands a bit during the draft over Randle’s painfully low steal rate. Do you see him ever turning into potentially an elite defender?

    Pelton: Elite? I’d settle for average, but there is reason to expect that as a possibility.

    Believe it or not, Randle is actually coming up with steals at an above-average rate for a power forward. And while he rarely blocks shots, opponents have shot a below-average 50 percent against Randle inside five feet, according to SportVU tracking on NBA.com/Stats.

    ESPN’s real plus-minus (RPM) still rates him as a below-average defender because the Lakers are allowing 4.3 more points per 100 possessions with Randle on the court, but he’s close enough to potentially get to average with experience.

    We heard a few comps for Randle during the draft process, most notably Zach Randolph. Having seen him in the NBA for a couple of months now, who does Randle remind you of, Chad?

    Does Randle compare to star players?

    Ford: Before the draft, Randolph and to a lesser extent Paul Millsap were the comps. I’m not confident he can hit either of those ceilings, which leads me to guys like Tristan Thompson (the rebounding!), J.J. Hickson and possibly Jared Sullinger.

    I’m sure you’ve spit out some more accurate ones.

    Pelton: You hit on several of the names my SCHOENE projection system has as comparisons for Randle. Sullinger and Thompson are both in the top 10 and Hickson and Randolph in the top 20.

    SCHOENE’s best comp is Drew Gooden, which I think makes a lot of sense in terms of lottery pedigree, rebounding prowess and relatively low-percentage shooting. Besides the pre-draft comps, there are a lot of long careers in that group but very few All-Star appearances.

    Unless Randle can dramatically improve his shooting and finishing, stardom doesn’t seem to be in the cards for him. There’s nothing wrong with that — none of the players drafted after Randle are surefire stars — but it does dampen the enthusiasm about the Lakers’ young core to some extent.

    Speaking of which, despite the second-best scoring average among sophomores, Lakers second-round pick Jordan Clarkson didn’t make our top 10s either. What do you see in his future

    Evaluating other young Lakers talent

    Ford: Clarkson was right behind Randle just outside my top 10. Ideally he’s a rotation player who gives your team a scoring punch coming off the bench. That’s valuable — especially because he can play both the one and the two.

    But his stellar rookie year might have moved him from underrated to overrated. I see him as a Rodney Stuckey or maybe a Jerryd Bayless type of player down the road.

    To me this whole exercise means that, right now, D’Angelo Russell is their only true building block for the future — unless, that is, Nance has you excited, Kevin. Russell has bounced back from a rough start to really begin to produce.

    What do you think of the rest of the Lakers’ young talent?

    Pelton: I just assumed before the exercise that Clarkson would rank in the top 10 because of how effective he was as a rookie, but when I looked closely at the numbers, I wasn’t impressed. Clarkson has never rated well by RPM, and his box-score stats have taken a turn for the worse this season, which is problematic for a 23-year-old player.

    While there’s certainly still room for Clarkson to develop at that age, when we talk about potential, remember that we’re comparing him to what another second-year player like Marcus Smart will become with two more seasons of experience.

    I thought taking Nance in the first round was a stretch, and I’m not sure he has done anything to change that opinion. He has provided energy and high-percentage finishing but has been ineffective on the defensive glass and is rarely creating his own shot. I see Nance having an extended career, but primarily as a reserve.

    So I think Russell is the only Lakers youngster with a good shot at becoming an above-average starter. That’s what makes it so important for them to retain their pick and find another young star in this year’s draft.

  32. I think Mid-W is right. Although Laker losses continue to mount, the team is looking better to my eyes. It is going to be difficult to stay worse than the Nets and Hornets and Suns.

  33. What I appreciate the most, thus far, about Nance Jr.’s game is that he stays in his lane. He’s not out there forcing things. He plays within his comfort zone and never seems to hurt the team while he’s on the floor. While I’m not too sure whether he has the lateral quickness to play SF, I like his chances of succeeding at that position, rather than as a small ball Center (and yes, I understand that when we’re speaking of him as a Center, it’s only sporadically). As a matter of fact, I, for one, would like to see the organization develop him strictly as a SF. As Mid mentioned, he has the perfect size for a SF. This off season, expanding his range, improving his ball handling and learning to become an on ball perimeter defender will go a long way in to getting him to that level.

  34. Thanks Snarky !!
    Not that I agree, but a good read

  35. @Mid, that’s what I think as well.

    Our team is improving, and Scott has little incentive to tank, the opposite in fact, since his job hangs on wins, and he most likely wouldn’t be around to see another draft pick.

    Thus, Philly, the Nets/Celts and possibly now even the Suns or more, can push us from those bottom 3 rungs.

    The Pelton article makes it seem that we are doomed if we lose our pick, yet I don’t believe that’s the case.

    He and his doom and gloom cronies have been wrong before, and will be wrong again.

  36. Thanks Snarky George!!!!!!!!!!!! Painful to read and I don’t necessarily agree like very much at all but we gotta see what the INsiders think!!!!!

    So according to Pelton and Ford, if Randle, IN HIS FIRST NBA SEASON, can improve his jumper or his rim finishing and also improve his defense, he will be a good player????!?!??!

    WOW. That is ground breaking journalism and fantastic analysis. These guys need to go work for a team like Hollinger!!! They are WASTING their talent writing for INsider!! SO if the young first year player improves, HE WILL BE BETTER!!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?! This is AMAZING!!!!!!

  37. Can’t believe we are talking about larry nance jr, the who the hell is this guy on draft day.