Cleveland Cavaliers: Larry Nance Jr. is still crucial piece moving forward

Cleveland Cavaliers big Larry Nance Jr. looks to make a play. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Larry Nance Jr. looks to make a play. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Coming into the 2020-21 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers roster was filled with young talent but not a ton of veteran leadership. Despite being 27 years old at the start of the season, Larry Nance Jr. would be relied upon to be one of the team’s leaders.

However, due to a slew of injuries and a mysterious illness this season, Nance has been limited to just 35 games and will miss seemingly likely the remainder of the season after his most recent right thumb fracture.

Despite the several trips in and out of the lineup, Nance was able to produce similar numbers. His overall field goal percentage dropped from 53.1 percent to 47.1 percent, but his percentage from three-point range went up to 36.0 percent (35.2 percent in 2019-20).

Beyond scoring, Nance was impacting the game as a facilitator as well. Even while he has had a career-high in minutes per game, with how Kevin Love did miss most of the season due to right calf injury complications, his 3.1 assists per game have been near a career-high. That was great to see.

And another area of Nance’s game that was beginning to take a step was in the team defensive aspect, as he averaged a career-best 1.7 steals per game.

While Nance may be overlooked in the grand scheme of things, he is a vital player to the Cavaliers success moving forward. Cleveland has their young core of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro and seemingly Jarrett Allen, who looks to be getting himself right again, which is a solid quartet of players to build around.

That said, Nance is an excellent “glue guy” for this team, and he has steadily developed his scoring abilities and shows an increased feel for making plays on the offensive end of the floor with his passing skill set.

On the defensive end of the floor, Nance can defend multiple positions at 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds. He also can contest shots with his lengthy wingspan, and he uses that wingspan to play the passing lanes well.

For a number of reasons, Nance is still a crucial piece for the Cavs moving forward.

The talent Nance brings to the floor is pretty well-rounded, but he impacts this team beyond his ability on the court.

Before each game this season, Nance has worn apparel from a local Northeast Ohio business. After the game, Nance will then auction off his game-worn jersey and/or other Cavs players, and all the proceeds go towards the business that were supported that night. Not to mention he and the Cavaliers organization match the winning auction for every jersey.

These are the type of players Cleveland needs on their roster. High-character players that not only leave their mark on the court but also within the community, and Nance is that and more for Cleveland.

As for his skill set on the court, Nance is a forward well-built for the “modern” version of the NBA game. Teams covet players of Nance’s size who can make plays with or without the ball in his hands and are a factor on the defensive end of the floor.

Moreover, Nance is under contract for two more years at $10.7 million next season and $9.7 million for 2022-23. For the skills Nance possesses, he is a relative bargain.

Okoro is coming along as a cutter. dark. Next

Nance has battled injuries throughout his career, but his impact on the Cavaliers extends beyond statistics and is a player Cleveland needs to hold on to because he embodies the character traits this team needs to have moving forward.