CLEVELAND, Ohio – Larry Nance Jr. and Andre Drummond have been teammates for a month now, and in his short time being a Cavalier, Drummond has observed a key facet of Nance’s game that isn’t shown enough.
Nance is known as one of the Cavs’ best defenders and rebounders. He’s even shown improved scoring ability, averaging a career-high 10.0 points this season.
But on Sunday night, Nance showed his shooting ability, a part of his game that he could put on display even more often.
The Cavs defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 132-129, in overtime. Nance tied his career-high for made 3-pointers, knocking down three. Nance also shot five 3-pointers, one 3-point attempt from tying his career high.
He was one of four Cavs players to record a double-double, scoring 19 points off the bench and grabbing 10 rebounds.
“He can shoot,” Drummond said. “I’ve been begging him to shoot since I got here. But he’s in his own head sometimes, though. He’s only gotten better with it, and he’s getting more comfortable shooting his shots, too. We need him to shoot those shots as well too when he’s open because he can shoot the ball very well.”
Nance’s role wasn’t to be a capable floor spacer earlier in his career. That’s not even truly his role now. But this season Nance has shot more 3-pointers than ever before in his career.
As the Cavs’ frontcourt Swiss Army knife, Nance has shot a career-high 2.9 threes per game, and he’s boasted the highest 3-point percentage of his career at 34.4%.
Nance has recorded 16 games this season where he’s made at least two 3-pointers. Last season Nance had seven such games, and the season before that, he had zero.
This season and last season are the only two campaigns Nance has averaged at least one 3-pointer per game. Last season he shot 33.7% from beyond the arc, a fine number considering he only averaged 1.5 3-pointers per contest.
So, since Nance can shoot OK, why doesn’t he take more?
“It’s less so even my shot,” Nance said. “I’ve been able to shoot for a while. But it’s just the willingness to shoot it. Since I got in the league, I was telling Andre, I’ve just been hearing ‘Larry, you gotta shoot more. You gotta shoot more. You have to shoot that –’”
“500 threes,” Kevin Love jokingly interjected, while Nance did his postgame interview.
“I’m trying to break out of that box,” Nance said. “I’m trying to shoot a little bit more –”
Nance was interrupted once again. Another teammate had something to say.
“Shoot the (bleeping) ball, Larry,” Drummond said from his locker.
With Nance gaining encouragement, that shows his teammates have confidence in him. Nance isn’t a pure floor-spacing power forward, but what makes his game impactful is that he’s well-rounded on both ends.
Shooting isn’t a dominant part of Nance’s arsenal, but it is part of it. If Nance flashes his stroke more often, that could create more space for him and the Cavs offensively.
“Trying to shoot a little bit more,” Nance said. “It’s definitely coming around. But my shot’s always been there. It’s just whether I’ve taken it or not.”
The Cavs will start a six-game road trip Tuesday in Chicago against the Bulls, with tipoff set for 8 p.m.