Larry Nance Jr. will miss an undetermined amount of time due to a fractured hand.
The Los Angeles Lakers will be without their starting power forward for some time, as Larry Nance Jr. fractured his hand in Thursday night’s tilt against the Portland Trail Blazers. Nance left in the third quarter of a nationally-televised contest that his team would ultimately go on to lose 113-110. The forward had registered 7 points and 5 rebounds before leaving the game.
Nance has been a solid contributor for the Lakers this season, posting averages of 10.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in just 23.1 minutes of court time per night. Nance is out indefinitely as the organization assesses the injury and looks to find a timetable for his return, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk:
Nance’s absence leaves a hole in the starting lineup that head coach Luke Walton will have to fill. One option for the starting power forward role is popular rookie Kyle Kuzma. A late first-round selection in the 2017 NBA Draft, Kuzma has proven more NBA-ready that many people expected him to be coming out of Utah. Averaging 15 points per game on better than 54 percent shooting (33.3 percent from distance), Kuzma could prove a stretch-4 to start in the frontcourt alongside center Brook Lopez.
Julius Randle is another candidate to take over starting duties at the 4-spot. Though he’s played somewhat sparingly this season, averaging less than 20 minutes per game, Randle retains immense offensive talent. The seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Randle is posting Per-36 averages of 20.7 points and 10.1 rebounds thus far this year, so more playing time could be deserved.
The Lakers are off to a 3-5 start, not a huge surprise for such a young team. The loss of Nance isn’t a crippling blow to a team with talented youngsters like Kuzma, Randle, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. However, Nance has served as a reliable source of energy and rebounding, and he figures to be an integral role player for this organization in the long term.