Cavs: Larry Nance Jr.’s shooting should be back on track in 2021-22

Cleveland Cavaliers big Larry Nance Jr. shoots the ball. (Photo by Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Larry Nance Jr. shoots the ball. (Photo by Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports) /

Last season was not the greatest one for Cleveland Cavaliers big Larry Nance Jr., who was hampered by injuries.

Nance did a commendable job for most of the first month-plus or so of the season in which he was filling in as the regular starting 4 for Kevin Love, who was dealing with right calf injury complications and missed nearly all of the year pre-All-Star break.

But from there, Nance missed a couple games and then a few games because of a right wrist sprain, and he missed from February until post-All-Star break due to him fracturing the fourth metacarpal on his left hand.

Nance would then come back for a 10-game stretch in that time, and did do a nice job, often filling in as a starter once again, and had a respectable 11.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per outing in that span for Cleveland.

Albeit in what would end up being another bout of rough luck following that, Nance would end up missing a seven-game stretch because of extremely nasty bout of illness in which he would reportedly lose nearly 20 pounds. It took some time for him to eventually gain that weight/his stamina back too, as one would assume.

Unfortunately after he was back for six games and did not look like himself, in a game where Matthew Dellavedova, Lamar Stevens and Isaiah Hartenstein would also get injured, Nance fractured his right thumb in a loss at the Washington Wizards on April 25. And his season would be wrapped up following that.

Needless to say, Nance had a rough bout of injuries, and the condensed schedule didn’t aid him or the Cavs in general, from an injury absence standpoint. Other NBA clubs all were in the same boat with the schedule having been condensed, though.

On the plus side, for Nance, when he was able to be in action, and was reasonably healthy, he was able to be a pretty viable catch-and-shoot option, and his finishing was generally good near the rim, though not quite what it was in prior years.

In that realm, I’d think that should play out, particularly in the catch-and-shoot area, next season, under the assumption he’ll be fully ready to roll after hopefully a very productive offseason.

Nance’s shooting/finishing should be back on track in 2021-22 for the Cavs.

Nance hit a career-best 36.0 percent of his three-point attempts last season, on what was also a career-high with 3.3 attempts per contest. That was mostly due to him having a career-high with 31.2 minutes per outing, of which again, was largely because of Love’s injury woes, more so before before the All-Star break, as was mentioned.

But for Nance, while clearly the injuries and then him having that awful bout of illness played into it, as opposed to the prior season, his shooting and finishing was not trending up.

In 16 games active post-All-Star break, he hit only 33.3 percent of his three-point attempts, and only 64.3 percent of his free throw attempts. He seemed somewhat timid in the paint as well, which, to some degree, led to a field goal shooting clip of 45.7 percent, which for Nance is far from typical with how great of a finisher he normally is.

Again, I’m not going to grill him for that though, due to the ailments he had to deal with and then his season being closed out sidelined wasn’t ideal, either.

On a positive note, Nance should again be able to be fully ready to go in preseason I would imagine, and over the offseason, I’d think he’ll be able to work on his game extensively, including both with his catch-and-shoot game and the interior finishing.

And as was noted, it’s not as if Nance’s shooting was necessarily way off in an overall sense last season; he just was hampered by injuries, and played in by far a career-low 35 games in 2020-21. Simply put, for much of the season, he wasn’t able to establish a consistent rhythm, or at least it seemed that way to a large extent.

But coming into next season, I’d think that Nance should be healthy, and while he’ll definitely make a big impact defensively, both individually and on the glass/in passing lanes, and as a screener and secondary playmaker, the shot/finishing should be there once again.

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So in his share of minutes at the 4, and seemingly some at the 5 and on occasion as a jumbo 3, I’d expect him to be much more ready to roll in the scoring sense game-to-game when he’s in there for Cleveland.

Hopefully the 28-year-old can stay healthy looking onward, to drive that home, though, given the plethora of ways Nance helps the Cavs when he’s himself, if you will.

And lastly, although Nance has been previously mentioned in trade rumors, with what he means to this Cavs team, and his leadership presence from a locker room/community standpoint, I wouldn’t expect that to play out.

But we will have to see, and while it wasn’t seemingly mentioning concrete traction in that way, Chris Fedor of did state in a mailbag set of responses/report that Nance is “highly valued,” if a potential trade were to be sought out this offseason.

With what we’ve emphasized, I wouldn’t anticipate Larry to be moved, to reiterate, and off the floor, he helped so many small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. That sort of thing showcases his leadership qualities, and fittingly, Nance was one of 10 players nominated as finalists for the NBA Cares Community Assist Award, as demonstrated by the Cavaliers.

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Albeit circling back, I would expect Nance to again rebound next season, and his perimeter catch-and-shoot and interior finishing abilities should be there far more consistently game-to-game again.