Portland Trail Blazers’ new forward Larry Nance Jr. was highlighted by Bryan Kalbroski of HoopsHype as this off-season’s most underrated signing. Blazers’ coach Chauncey Billups has made it known that increased ball movement is a focus for his system next season. Kalbroski highlighted Nance’s playmaking as a big reason for the great fit within the Blazers’ offense.
Under former head coach Terry Stotts, the Trail Blazers ranked last overall in total passes per game both last season and the season prior. They finished with the worst overall mark in assist percentage in 2020-21 and in the year before as well.
Chauncey Billups, who will take over for Stotts as head coach, has stressed that Portland will increase its ball movement next season.
Nance, whose assist percentage has ranked in the 80th percentile or better among players at his position in each of the past three seasons (per Cleaning the Glass), can play a huge role in that mission.
It’s no secret that the Blazers have struggled on defense in recent years, and Kalbroski believes that Nance will be a key contributor to a Blazers defense that hopes to be much improved.
Nance was one of the most impactful and most versatile defensive big men in the league. Almost no player at his position records steals more often and he is also constantly among the league’s leaders in hustle stats like deflections.