Is Talen Horton-Tucker The Lakers’ REAL Secret Weapon?
“Telling you right now. This kid is SPECIAL! Mark my words”
LeBron James tweeted that out on December 11th after the Lakers played the Clippers in their preseason opener. Who exactly was referring to? A twenty-year-old Laker named Talen Horton-Tucker.
Drafted 46th by the purple and gold last season, “THT” spent a majority of his time in the G League, averaging 16 PPG and 8 RPG with the South Bay Lakers. With the big club, he put up 5.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, and 1 APG while shooting 47% from the field and 30% from three.
In both preseason games against the LA Clippers, he put up 19 and 33 points, respectively. He’s been very consistent for the team and shown flashes of potential. The young sophomore has caught the eye of opposing teams, being a solid driver to the rim and occasionally swishing triples. He has also brought the ball up several times for the Lakers and displayed a slither of playmaking skills that are vital to a team with scorers. His defense is also impressive, as he racked up four steals in his 33-point game against the Clippers.
The praise for THT has been very high, ranging from teammates and coaches to opposing players and NBA superstars.
While in the Bubble, Frank Vogel talked to reporters about him and emphatically said, “Man, that f***ING kid, he’s gonna start for me next year.” Of course, given their new acquisitions, THT is not guaranteed a starting spot; however, his role with the team could increase.
One Laker to take notice of THT’s amazing play has been Anthony Davis. In an interview with Spectrum Sportsnet, he said, “He played his ass off. He’s been great from day one, even in the bubble last year. He’s been great for us. And he’s a kid who wants to learn, a kid who wants to go out there and compete and get thrown into the fire. He doesn’t shy away from matchups, he doesn’t shy away from big moments, he listens and that’s all you can ask for from a guy who is a young player.”
Tucker also caught the eye of Kawhi Leonard, who asked Wesley Matthews how old THT was during the preseason opener. Matthews was also surprised to find out that Tucker just turned 20 years old.
As far as Horton-Tucker’s exact role with the team, it could go two ways. He could see himself playing the backup guard/wing under Frank Vogel, being a spark plug and providing another ball handler off the bench. Although unlikely, he just might replace Kyle Kuzma, who drew a lot of ire from Laker fans for his inconsistency.
On the other hand, THT could very well be an emergency-use player just as Alex Caruso was last season. LA is log jammed at the shooting guard & small forward spots, with Caruso, Matthews, Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (in addition to LeBron, of course). This leaves limited minutes, if any, for him to show what he’s capable of when the games count, but he will surely be ready when his number is called.
This young 3&D player is slowly turning into a stud for the Lakers, and while he may not be in Vogel’s rotation at the moment, that soon could change if the opportunity arises.
“Vogel told reporters in bubble Talen Horton-Tucker ‘is going to start for me next year’” by Honi, Lakers Outsiders https://lakersoutsiders.com/2020/12/16/vogel-bubble-talen-horton-tucker-start-lakers/
“Anthony Davis says Talen Horton-Tucker will play ‘big role’ for Lakers this season” by Harrison Faigen, Silver Screen & Roll https://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2020/12/19/22191033/anthony-davis-talen-horton-tucker-play-big-role-for-lakers-james-worthy