Cavs: Being more of a pull-up threat may be next step for Larry Nance Jr.

Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. brings the ball up the floor. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. brings the ball up the floor. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. has made tremendous strides in the last two seasons, and being more of a pull-up threat may be the next step for his evolution as a player.

Since he was acquired near the 2018 trade deadline by the Cleveland Cavaliers, big man Larry Nance Jr. has been one of my favorite players on the Wine and Gold.

In the last two seasons, in particular, Nance has become a legitimate three-point shooting threat. He hit a respectable 33 of 98 three-pointers in 2018-19, and thus far with the NBA season suspended due to concerns involving the novel coronavirus pandemic, Nance has hit a career-best 35.2 percent of his 159 three-point attempts, according to Basketball Reference.

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Along with Nance becoming a decent deep ball shooter, in somewhat-funky lineups since J.B. Bickerstaff took the head coaching reigns for Cleveland post-All-Star break, Nance showed he could play the 3 spot at times in meaningful stretches.

Also throughout the 2019-20 season, which may or may not eventually resume, but per The Athletic‘s Sam Amick (subscription required), “optimism is growing” in relation to a season resumption at least of some sort, Nance showcased a much-improved post game, which was really encouraging for the near future.

Nance has proven that he’s a very good secondary playmaker for the Cavaliers as a big, much like Kevin Love, and Nance, who had 3.2 assists per game post-All-Star leading into the season’s suspension, will continue to be for Bickerstaff and company moving forward.

Plus with Love, though he won’t be just basically given away ever in a potential trade, as’s Chris Fedor said in a recent mailbag set of responses, I’d think, just like Fedor, he could still be a subject of trade rumors in the upcoming offseason, and I’d again expect Nance to either way be even more of a crucial piece in coming years.

That’s even including whether or not Andre Drummond opts into his $28.8 million player option for next season. According to a report from Fedor on Thursday Drummond opting in will likely happen and I’d think Drummond could be a solid expiring trade piece down the road if that were to be the case, anyway, though.

A former NBA general manager told Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz near the deadline that he believes Drummond, even if he opts in, could be traded shortly thereafter or sign an extension and agree to a sign-and-trade, but I’d imagine Cleveland would look to deal Drummond further down the road.

More minutes-share/workload could perhaps open up to a degree for Nance, too, as the expiring Tristan Thompson is seemingly a feasible sign-and-trade candidate in the upcoming free agency period, as Fedor touched on, too.

Anyhow, swinging back to Nance’s skill set, he is clearly Cleveland’s most versatile big man on their roster right now that’s averaged 10.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game mostly as a reserve thus far in 2019-20.

He’s an inside-out threat, instinctive passer/roller/screener and he’s able to switch out admirably in pick-and-roll coverage better than the others.

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So what might be the next step for Nance’s evolution as a player?

To me, with Nance’s much improved handle and with him being a real catch-and-shoot three-point threat, I believe Nance’s next step is becoming a more viable pull-up threat.

Thus far this season, Nance has an effective field goal shooting clip of 32.9 percent, and his pull-up shooting frequency has only been 8.2 percent, per’s shot tracking data.

Though it’s been mostly seemingly one or two-dribble face-ups inside the arc for Nance, his hit rate on those of 45.5 percent is solid, and to me, with his quickness and often being defended by 4’s and even 5’s, I’d like to see Nance shoot more pull-ups.

Realistically, I’d say from the elbows for those would be a nice next step for him more regularly, where he’s already shown he can be an impact passer to cutters and as a spray-out delivery man.

Additionally, with Nance’s ability to be a grab-and-go threat after defensive rebounds and with the threat he poses as an above-the-rim finisher, particularly against bigs wanting to deter him from getting into the paint, he could get quality pull-up looks in secondary transition in the mid-range area if he’s willing to take those in the near future.

Moreover, with Nance’s athleticism, passing and screening prowess, and with him placing in the 66th percentile on spot-ups thus far this season, per Synergy Sports, and hitting 37.6 percent on catch-and-shoot triples, I see the next step in Nance’s evolution as being more of a pull-up threat.

He’s also proven that he’s a terrific defensive communicator, excellent rotator/closeout player, rock solid rebounder on both ends and is an emerging leader.

Going forward, though, I just believe Nance could become even more effective in his minutes if he’s more willing to take pull-ups, and take say, 2.0 more pull-up shots per game, perhaps in the mid-range area and if he’s in-rhythm.

That could open up more driving and/or playmaking chances for him as a result, and make it harder for opposing bigs to defend him as a scorer.

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Nance, who is a more than capable mid-range shooter off-the-catch, is definitely capable of being more of a viable pull-up shooter if he’s willing, too, because the guy works so hard and made himself into a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter.