Now, as he faces his second year playing for his hometown team, Nance Jr., like Cedi Osman, knows he is going to have more responsibility without LeBron James on the roster. As a result, he is focused on becoming a more dynamic player in the offseason.
During the Cavs 93-88 over Indiana in summer league action on Monday night, Nance Jr. joined ESPN’s broadcast and talked about some areas he is hoping to improve on, most notably his shooting range. Even with James on the roster, Nance Jr. had a chance to expand shooting more jumpers with the Cavs, but heading into 2018-19, as Cleveland looks for more ways to be successful, he knows he is going to have to expand even further.
“I mean, I’ve been working on it since I got in the league,” he said during the broadcast. “But in L.A. I played a very carved-out role. And that’s how I carved my niche in the NBA, catching and finishing and all that. But hopefully now, with an expanded role in Cleveland, I can start working on the range and stretching out the court.”
After joining Cleveland, Nance Jr. averaged 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds. His overall player efficiency rating from the last season is something to be marveled at: 20.18, good for eighth best among all power forwards in the NBA.
While Nance Jr. did struggle somewhat after a hamstring injury, he certainly showed flashes of the dynamic player he has the ability to become in Cleveland.
“I want to be more dynamic,” he said. “Grab a rebound. I average — whatever, I averaged seven rebounds a game. I want to be able to take three or four of those and bring it up the court myself and make decisions and make plays.”
Obviously, without James, the Cavs will have to quickly retool their offense to allow guys more opportunities to be dynamic in the full court. And while there is obviously not a bandage that can replace James, Players like Osman and Nance Jr. relish that retooling opportunity itself.
“Obviously, you hate to lose the best player in the game,” Nance Jr. said. “But at the same time, we have really promising young talent out here on display. We’ve got Cedi Osman out there. Collin Sexton is playing pretty well. We just signed Billy Preston to a two-way [contract]. Ante [Zizic] is sitting out now, but he’s had a heck of a summer league to this point.
“And we have some proven vets. I mean, Kevin Love is a perennial All-Star. [George] Hill’s really good. Jordan Clarkson — hopefully we can get to bring Rodney Hood back. We’re really excited about what we have going forward. And I think we can shock a lot of people with what we can do.”