Los Angeles

Lakers Larry Nance Jr. on Toll of NBA Tanking Culture

Following Tuesday's victory, Larry Nance Jr. explained the impact of tanking when asked about the difference between the Lakers' previous season and current season

Larry Nance Jr. has had an odd start to his NBA career, to say the least.

The recently engaged 24-year-old, who dressed up as a Wyoming Cowboy on Halloween by simply sporting a gray sweatshirt paying homage to his college days, decided to open up about the experience of being on an NBA team addicted to the tank, i.e. losing on purpose for draft picks—commonly referred to as "Tanking."

"You know, we kind of knew, hovering over us was, 'We have a top pick. We kind of...no, we really want to keep that,'" Nance answers when asked the what he thinks the biggest difference between the 2016-17 Lakers and the 2017-18 Lakers is. The Lakers had just dropped the hammer on the Detroit Pistons to the tune of a 113-93 demolition job, and Nance is a thoughtful speaker when provided a topic of interest.

"Now this year, we don't have a pick, so we have nothing to lose, nothing to fall back on," Nance continued the talk. "So, it's all out, see how many wins we can get."

Of course, Nance is quick to deny any thought of throwing games or losing on purpose. No, the tanking culture is far more nuanced and perverted than that.

"It's weird. You know what I mean?" Nance says, as he begins to explain what he, in fact, means. "Because as competitors, you try to win, you want to win every single time on the court, but meanwhile, in the back of your mind, every time you're off the court, every time you see on Twitter, every time we won, people are like, 'What are you doing! You're messing up our...we need Lonzo (Ball)!' And it's like 'What? This is so reversed from what it's supposed to be.' It just makes it really hard to kind of focus on the task at hand when that's hanging above you."

What is sad, of course, is that Nance entered the NBA in 2015, along with no. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell. Their first season in the league was Kobe Bryant's final season and, historically speaking, the worst season the Lakers' franchise has ever witnessed—Minneapolis or Los Angeles. As a reminder, that 60-point game was only the Lakers' 17th win out of an 82-game season.

That season cost Byron Scott his coaching position with the team, and in came Luke Walton to man the sidelines.

"First year, I was trying to learn Byron's system. And then the next year, I was trying to learn Luke's system. This year, it's my first year of a set system," Nance says with comfort in his tone. "I kind of know what I'm doing. 'B.I.' (Brandon Ingram) kind of knows what we're doing. And obviously, Julius (Randle) and 'JC' (Jordan Clarkson), those guys have been here longer than I have."

It is at this point that one cannot help but be slightly alarmed that Nance views 25-year-old Clarkson and 22-year-old Randle as the veterans because they are currently the longest tenured Lakers, going way back to 2014.

Over the most recent summer, the new Lakers' front office of Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Rob Pelinka got lucky in the lottery and secured the pick that landed Ball and made Russell history. With the Lakers losing their no. 1 pick regardless of their record in the 2018 NBA Draft, Nance is in his first year playing for a team where fans don't openly scold victories and celebrate losses.

"This is the first year I'm out of it!" Nance exclaims gleefully. "So, I can't wait. My attitude is great. I'm loving this new style of, 'Hey, let's win these games and let's not have a lottery pick.' I love it!"

Nance elongates the middle word, as he repeats, "I love it."

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