Talen Horton-Tucker May Force Himself into Lakers Rotationby Garrett Brooks December 15, 2020 0 comments
The Los Angeles Lakers have come across some positive developments in the early days of the NBA’s preseason. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis (rightfully) resting early, among other veterans, Los Angeles has been able to take a closer look at the rest of the roster.
After two games, one development stands out far above everything else: Talen Horton-Tucker may force his way into Frank Vogel’s rotation. His 33 point, 10 rebound performance on Sunday was noticed by everyone. He also had four steals and four assists, while shooting well and eventually ending the game with a plus/minus of plus-36.
It’s one big performance, in the preseason. That’s important to remember. It’s also important to remember why people have already been high on him as a potential steal from the 2019 NBA draft, where he was taken 46th overall. He may be next in a long line of good value picks by the Lakers scouting department.
Players are Noticing the Young Guard
The greatest sign that a player is emerging in the NBA is recognition from his peers. Horton-Tucker has gotten noticed by quite a few big-time players in his brief NBA career.
According to Harrison Faigen of SBNation, new teammate Wesley Matthews was unaware the guard is just 20 years old. How did he find out? Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard asked him during the team’s preseason game Sunday night. At the least, the guard seemed to impress Kawhi on some level.
It’s hard to tell if it was THT’s offensive explosion or this defensive play that stood out most to Kawhi.
Talen Horton Tucker snatches the ball from Kawhi pic.twitter.com/KwqAaAoAix
— THE NBA Hustle 🏀 (@TheNBAHustle) December 14, 2020
Horton-Tucker’s teammate James hasn’t shied away from praising the Iowa State alum, either. James said on Twitter after the Lakers’ first preseason game that Horton-Tucker “is flat out SPECIAL!”. That’s high praise from James, who knows a thing or two about being ‘flat out special’.
Telling you right now! This kid is flat out SPECIAL! Mark my words https://t.co/KOYtlFxNVV
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 12, 2020
Clearly, LeBron thinks Horton-Tucker has a bright future in the league. If his performances stay anywhere near where they’ve been in the first couple of preseason games, he could have a role sooner than later.
Frank Vogel Acknowledges THT Could Force Himself into the Rotation
The rich could be getting richer. The Lakers already had one of the best offseasons in the NBA. If they are also adding in a rising contributor in THT, they have even more depth.
Vogel, the Lakers head coach, admitted Horton-Tucker could make his life a bit more difficult in the short term. The good news is, it’s the kind of difficult a head coach would enjoy. Vogel could keep players fresher throughout the season, play injuries safely, and have incredibly versatile lineups due to his deep rotation.
Where the minutes will come from will be the most interesting part. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how trusted the guard is by the Lakers coaching staff.
Horton-Tucker is an Asset
Horton-Tucker has shown the ability to get it done on both ends of the court, something that’s crucial to be a part of Vogel’s rotation. He’s tallied seven steals in the two preseason matchups with the Clippers. He’s also attacked the boards in both games, grabbing nine rebounds in the first game and ten in the second. That kind of rebounding from the guard spot is incredibly valuable.
At just 20 years old, THT has absolutely no fear on the court. While right now he’s playing a much larger offensive role than he would ever play in the regular season, the skills translate. He won’t need the ball in his hands all the time but is capable of helping with ball handling. Further, it’s hard to see how he would not thrive in a talented lineup like the Lakers will usually have on the court.
As a contending team, having a 20-year-old player push for minutes is exciting. The Lakers appear to have another draft day steal, and the future looks even brighter than it did a few weeks ago.
Follow Garrett Brooks on Twitter @Garrett_Brooks1
Main Image Credit: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/bold-eastern-conference-predictions-for-2020-21-season-nets-wont-be-top-four-seed-bucks-bench-struggles/