John Beilein says Darius Garland will play in Cavaliers preseason opener; not yet ready to name starters – cleveland.com

John Beilein says Darius Garland will play in Cavaliers preseason opener; not yet ready to name starters - cleveland.com
Cleveland Cavaliers: 3 bold predictions for 2019-20 NBA season
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein during practice at the Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence. (Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com)

Like other NBA players, Larry Nance Jr. worked on improving his game during the offseason, while focusing on his 3-point shooting.

Larry Nance Jr. has been spending a majority of his time at power forward during training camp. John Kuntz, cleveland.com

A new report indicates that his apparent improvement in that area hasn’t come easily, with Nance estimating that he took over 20,000 practice shots from beyond the arc.

Larry Nance, Jr. (right) had plenty of praise for Kevin Porter Jr. (left) following Saturday's practice.

Video: Training Camp Day 6: Coach Beilein

’I shot till I was blue in the face,” said Nance. “A whole lot of jump shooting in the off-season.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland practices at the Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence. (Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com)

Part of the reason for Nance’s focus on that aspect is because new Cavaliers head coach John Beilein is adjusting the veteran’s positioning on the court. That translates into using him as a power forward instead of at center and helps explain his exhaustive effort to become a more dangerous shooter.

Darius Garland participates in 5-on-5 scrimmage for first time Saturday

“In preparation for this new opportunity, Nance estimates taking more than 20,000 3-pointers,” wrote Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “One member of the organization said his form has looked more ‘fluid’ in the first few days of camp.”

Cleveland made him the focal point of their offense and their primary playmaker and he thrived in his role. After the All-Star break, Sexton upped his scoring output 20.8 PPG,while shooting at a very efficient 47.7 percent from the field, and 41.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Last season, Nance hit a career-high 33 3-pointers in his first full season with the Cavaliers. Indicating that he’s hoping to at least double that amount for the 2019-20 season, he explained the strategy of having this weapon at his disposal.

The whole idea for me behind shooting 3’s is, obviously I want to make them and I want to become very efficient and very good at it, but for me its getting into the lane. Teams desperately dont want me off the dribble in the lane, Nance told Fedor. For me, if I can shoot well enough to have them close out to me then my first step is too fast for these big guys to stay in front. Once I get downhill thats when playmaking ensues. Thats the whole thought process behind it.

For inspiration on this new approach, Nance can look to his teammate Kevin Love, who’s spent his entire NBA career as a big man who can knock down deep shots. Despite a series of injuries during the first 11 years of his career, Love has 1,077 regular season 3-pointers to his credit.

In contrast, Nance has hit a mere 46 3-pointers during his first four seasons. That number figures to change dramatically this year, given Beilein’s new approach and Nance’s tireless efforts to up his game.


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