Cleveland Cavaliers: One key goal for Larry Nance Jr. for 2020-21

Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. looks to pass. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. looks to pass. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Larry Nance Jr. will likely again contribute in a variety of ways for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season, and here, we’ll highlight a key goal for him in 2020-21.

It’s been a true pleasure to see the growth of Larry Nance Jr. these past two seasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In back-to-back seasons for the Wine and Gold, Nance has shown an expanded offensive game, as he’s had career-highs in both seasons with 9.4 and 10.1 points per outing respectively.

That’s been coincided with him proving to be a viable three-point shooting threat, too. In 2018-19, Nance shot 33.7 percent from downtown, and in 2019-20, he hit 35.2 percent of his also career-high 2.8 attempts per game.

It was unfortunate for Nance and others, though, that on Thursday, the Cavs’ 2019-20 season officially ended. Cleveland was not one of the league’s top 22 teams invited for a season resumption at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, and in terms of the reports regarding the league’s resumption/other plans, you can view those here and also here.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the details for the NBA’s plans for season resumption, and again, it was officially ruled on Thursday that the Cavs’ 2019-20 is indeed over.

The NBA’s Board of Governors approved the league’s 22-team return proposal, closing out the year for Cleveland, who had the league’s second-worst record going into the season’s novel coronavirus-induced hiatus.

Even though Cleveland’s 19-46 record was obviously a rough one, Nance again played very well for much of the year, and especially from January on.

Aside from the scoring/perimeter shooting improvements he showed, Nance again proved to be a very good all-around contributor for Cleveland mostly off the bench, as he had 7.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game. I’d expect his play to continue to get better next season, too.

As far as one key goal for Nance for 2020-21 for the Cleveland Cavaliers, I’d like to see him have an assist rate of 13.5 percent.

While Nance’s scoring output has again been on the uptick in recent seasons, and he’s proven to be an effective team defender that is capable of switching out on perimeter players commendably, what I’m still going to focus on for next season for him is the secondary playmaking element he provides.

In 2019-20, he averaged that aforementioned 2.2 assists per outing, which was just fine for a reserve big.

Even so, Nance is a player that I’d expect Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to utilize more in that regard. Nance has impressive feel/vision and timing for a big in hitting cutters, such as Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Kevin Porter Jr. and Alfonzo McKinnie and in making spray-outs on-time to shooters, such as Kevin Love and Darius Garland.

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Along with that, with Nance demonstrating that he could be a viable 3 man option for Bickerstaff, as KJG’s Amadou Sow emphasized, thanks in large part to Nance’s improved handle, I see a key goal for him being having an assist rate of 13.5 percent in 2020-21.

For context, Nance on the season in 2019-20 had an overall assist rate of 12.6 percent, but in the Cavs’ last 15 games, he averaged 3.2 helpers per game in that 11-game stretch and had an assist rate of 14.8 percent, per Nance, a low turnover player, also had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.2-to-1.5, too.

Granted, I’d tentatively expect Garland, Kevin Love, and feasibly KPJ to be Cleveland’s most prominent playmakers next season, and maybe again the expiring Matthew Dellavedova, who I believe should be re-signed via team-friendly deal.

Still taking that into account, though, Nance having a bit more of that secondary playmaking role would indicate he’s making more of an impact for other pieces game-to-game, and that’s when he is at his best.

Of course, I’d still expect Nance to hit an average of give-or-take 10.0 points with his improved scoring repertoire in recent years, but looking again at 2020-21, it’d be great to see him make a bit more steady impact as a secondary playmaking big.

When Nance is getting the ball hopping when he’s in the game, coupled with the better off-the-catch perimeter shooting and rolling/screening he provides, the Cavs seem to have a constant spark, and I’d like to see his passing vision/feel utilized more next season.

Other pieces, such as Osman and Dylan Windler, who did not appear in 2019-20 due to complications due to a stress reaction in his left leg, could play a bit into Nance’s playmaking splits, however.

Next. One key goal for 2020-21 for Cedi Osman, Alfonzo McKinnie. dark

That’s my reasoning for realistically wanting to see Nance have a 13.5 percent assist rate throughout next season, which is not especially lofty, but it would be really solid, I believe.