Reports have recently come out suggesting that some NBA contenders have reached out to the Cleveland Cavaliers about the availability of Larry Nance Jr. The Timberwolves, Celtics, Pelicans, Heat, Mavericks, and Sixers have already shown interest. Nance Jr. is an interesting name to see in rumors as the trade market starts to heat up. The trade deadline is less than three weeks away, on March 25th. With Daryl Morey sure to be active as we approach that date, how would Larry Nance Jr. fit on the Sixers roster if he were to be traded for?
Larry Nance Jr. is a 6-foot-7 forward who has steadily improved his offensive game throughout his career. So far this season, he’s averaging 9.3 points per game while shooting 48% from the field and 38% from three. He’s also averaging a career high 3.2 assists per game. In the past, Nance Jr. would not have been seen as a good fit around Embiid and Simmons. It wasn’t until the 2018-19 season that he even attempted at least one three pointer a game. This season, he’s attempted 3.3 per game. His free throw shooting leaves a lot to be desired, as he’s shooting just 57% from the line. Steady improvement as a three point shooter has given Nance Jr. a lot more versatility on the offensive end of the floor. It makes sense that a variety of teams have him on their radar as the deadline approaches.
Defensively, Larry Nance Jr. has been incredible. This is really where he stands out as a real contributor to a playoff team. So far this year, he’s averaging 1.9 steals per game. Advanced stats will show that he is also averaging 3.9 deflections per game, right on par with our very own Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ben Simmons. Defense has been solid for the Sixers so far this season, but if that’s the identity of this squad, they can become even better. Having the top defense in the league should be this team’s goal and Larry Nance Jr. could be a way to help get there.
Names like Bradley Beal, Zach Lavine, and Kyle Lowry are rightfully at the forefront of the minds of Sixers fans right now in terms of trades. A more clear picture will soon start to form and the reality may be that those All-Star level players are not available. If that’s the case and Daryl Morey can’t swing a major trade, there will still be options to improve upon the team. Larry Nance Jr. is a player who has the ability to make the team better at a potentially reasonable cost.
Sitting at 24-12 and leading the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break, the 76ers will likely be all-in for the trade deadline. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are playing the best basketball of their careers and it would be a disservice to them if Daryl Morey didn’t do everything in his power to give this team real title chances. It will be very interesting to see what rumors continue to pop up over the next couple weeks and how many involve the Sixers. Though there is still some uncertainty about who the sellers and buyers will be in the market, one thing is certain: Daryl Morey is going to do whatever it takes to make the team better. Whether those plans will include a player like Larry Nance Jr. is yet to be seen, but if they do, we can all expect an already solid defense to get even better.
Photo: Justin Grasso/Sports Illustrated