Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): The best version of Nance involves the two skills he developed last year — three-point shooting and passing — being real. If those are now really parts of his game, and he can stay healthy, this should make him a really nice fit with what the Cavs are going to be building. It’d be great if he can defend too, and maybe a scheme change will help that. I just have no faith that anyone on the Cavs team is going to look good on defense when the whole team is going to be bad at it and there’s one player on the team (Sindarius Thornwell) who is actually a good perimeter defender.
Justin Rowan (@cavsanada): Best case for Larry Nance Jr. has to start with health. Nance took the starting job from Thompson after coming to the Cavs, but by the time the playoffs came around he was too banged up to make a difference. From there, the best case scenario would be for Nance to improve upon his play defensively, particularly as a rim protector. Nance was one of the worst rim protectors in the game last season, something that can’t be the case if he is going to be a significant part of a team featuring a two point guard lineup with Kevin Love. While the three point shooting and playmaking is nice, Nance being a plus defender for the first time since he left Los Angeles is what matters most to me.
David Zavac (@DavidZavac): His best role is probably coming off the bench behind Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, but his offensive skill might get him in the starting lineup. I think it’s one of those things where if he comes off the bench, we’ll wonder why he’s not starting, but if he starts durability would remain a question. Chris is right, if his vision and distribution along with Kevin Love can help out the passing-challenged guards the Cavs employ, he’s a great fit. If he takes really any meaningful defensive step he might have surpassed Thompson as the right guy regardless.
CM: If Nance gets banged up again, and isn’t quite as good as his best moments last year indicated, that would be a bummer. For one, it’d be non-ideal to know how much he can play with Kevin Love and how good that duo can be. (We’ve barely seen it so far in one-plus season.) Secondly, it would mean it’d be hard to gauge how good he can be in John Beilein’s system and how he can help the growth of the young core. Really, if we don’t know how he compliments them this year, that’d not a great end result.
JR: Worst case scenario is that Nance continues to be unreliable defensively, struggles to stay on the floor and an added emphasis on the outside game limits his aggressiveness in attacking the basket. Hitting outside shots is nice, but as a center in today’s game on a team with multiple ball handlers his most valuable offensive skill is to attack the rim and make passes out of the short roll. Losing sight of what your strengths are and being unreliable is essentially the worst case scenario for a role player.
DZ: We come to the final conclusion that he’s just not an NBA starter, whether it’s because of an inability to defend at the center position, or that he just can’t stay healthy there. And that’s really not all that bad. If he’s a guy that can play 60+ games at 24+ minutes off the bench between the power forward and center spots, that’s valuable. Frankly, it’s what I expected of and defended Tristan Thompson for quite a few years. He’s got proven NBA skills, is great in the locker room, and community. It’s probably only upside for Larry.