EL SEGUNDO — As Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka outlined the “pursuit of excellence,” Lakers reserve Larry Nance Jr. spent his exit meeting coming up with a litany of items he wants to check off his bucket list.
That includes addressing an issue the Lakers have strongly lacked in recent seasons with either Mike D’Antoni (2012-14), Byron Scott (2014-16) or Luke Walton (present) patrolling the sideline.
“Whether it’s next year or the year after or the year after that, I want to be a guy that is in the defensive player of the year discussions,” Nance said. “I think I have the ability.”
The Lakers recently have not had the ability to excel defensively. Last season, the Lakers ranked 28th out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed (111.5), 30th in defensive field-goal percentage (48.3) and 30th in fast-break points allowed (16.2). According to NBA.com, Nance ranks 160th out of 482 players in defensive efficiency while allowing opponents to shoot 46.6 percent from the field.
Still, Nance said the Lakers’ front office considered his off-ball defense “an area of strength.” To improve his on-ball defense, Nance plans to do a few things. He will study tape of Golden State’s Draymond Green and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard. Nance will also train this offseason with his father, Larry Nance, who had a 13-year NBA career with the Phoenix Suns (1981-88) and Cleveland Cavaliers (1988-1994).
“I kind of got the sense that if you’re not all in, this might not be the place for you,” Nance said of his exit meeting last week with the Lakers’ front office. “I’m super excited. I know I can’t wait to work.”