The Lakers are going to need a new starting power forward for a while.
Larry Nance Jr., who has played well in that role, fractured the second metacarpal in his left hand during the game in Portland Thursday night and is out indefinitely. Lakers’ coach Luke Walton said he will be evaluated by team doctors Friday and a timeline will be established.
Nance left the game in the third quarter after contact with Caleb Swanigan and did not return.
Nance has averaged 10.6 points and 7.5 rebounds a game this season, and more importantly has been the kind of efficient scorer working off the ball that pairs well with Lonzo Ball. Nance is shooting 61.4 percent, and 74 percent of his shot attempts are assisted (he’s fantastic when he gets to the rim, but he settles for too many midrange shots and is shooting 24 percent on those this season).
Walton now has to now figure out who takes over as the starting four.
Most likely it is Julius Randle or Kyle Kuzma. Randle had the starting job going into training camp (Nance outplayed him) and could get it back because he shows some chemistry with Brook Lopez. However, Walton likes Randle as a spark with the second unit, so my guess is Kuzma gets the call. He has been a real find and had 22 points against Portland Thursday off the bench, but he struggles defensively and paired with Ball that could be an issue. If Walton wanted to go with a veteran, Corey Brewer or Luol Deng are available.