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John Beilein Speaks Highly of Larry Nance Jr.’s Versatilty, Giving Him Green Light on 3-Pointers

Larry Nance Jr. Cavs

With new Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein set to begin his first season with the team, he’s looking to the team’s veterans.

One of those players is Larry Nance Jr., who Beilein not only praised for his versatility, but also has offered him free rein to shoot beyond the arc.

Beilein’s preseason coaching included charting practices to uncover potential options when it came to 3-point shooters. Nance quickly became one of Beilein’s top candidates in that category.

“Anytime you guys talk to him, tell him, ‘Coach wants you to shoot the 3.’ You can tell him too, that when he’s open he should not hesitate,” Beilein told reporters. “He’s a hybrid, he can shoot, he can really pass, he can guard multiple possessions. ‘We want you out on the floor, but you can’t turn down open shots.’”

During the past offseason, Nance put in countless hours to sharpen his long-range touch. That effort came after he had gotten his feet wet last year by connecting on 33-of-98 3-pointers for a shooting percentage of 33.7 percent.

“Last year was the first time I actually did it,” Nance said, “but going into this year I’m super optimistic thanks to my work this summer. I think it’s going to pay off huge dividends.”

Entering last year, Nance had only converted 21.4 percent of his 70 career attempts from beyond the arc.

Kelsey Russo of The Athletic pointed out that the emphasis on 3-point shooting was just the latest steppingstone in Nance’s improvement. That’s led to an enhanced ability to both dribble and pass.

“When he joined the Cavs, Nance said, he expanded his dribble and hoped to become more of a basketball player instead of locked into a role,” wrote Russo. “Last season, while the Cavs struggled, Nance learned he had a feel for building off the dribble to make the necessary pass.

“’Now, if I see somebody open I don’t have to think about, ‘all right, how am I going to dribble from there to there to make the pass?'” Nance said. “I always knew I could make the pass, but dribbling was the hard part. Now, it’s second nature. I can put the ball down between my legs, behind my back, whatever I need to do to get to where I need to be on the court.”

Nance saw improved averages per game last season when it came to scoring (9.4), rebounding (8.2) and assists (3.2). In those first two departments, he’s not far away from averaging a double-double, something that be an asset to a rebuilding team like the Cavaliers. The hope is that he’s able to make major contributions in the year ahead.

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