The Lakers have a serious problem brewing: how do they find playing time for Talen Horton-Tucker on such a stacked roster?
Much of the offseason talk has been about how Rob Pelinka has been able to load up for another title run, but that talk has quickly turned to focus on the team’s former 46th-overall pick in the 2019 draft.
Talen Horton-Tucker, the 6’4″ guard with a 7’2″ wingspan, has taken the NBA world by storm this preseason, much like Alex Caruso did last year. He has been explosive and exciting to watch during the first two games for LA, and his head coach has noticed.
When Frank Vogel was asked about the possibility of THT having a rotation spot going forward, he was genuinely happy to have another problem to solve. “It’s going to make my job difficult for sure,” he said with a slight grin on his face after his second-year player absolutely lit up the Clippers for a second game in a row.
While the increased production came due to the Lakers sitting multiple players, that doesn’t take away from how impressive Horton-Tucker has looked so far this preseason.
Over their first two contests, THT is averaging an easy 26 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3.5 steals in just over 39 minutes of play. Preseason or not, those are not normal numbers for a player just starting to get some consistent action.
A Two-Way Threat
One of the factors that has his team so excited for the future is how tenacious THT is on both sides of the floor. He is more than capable on the offensive end, but his defense is what makes him such an exciting prospect.
Take this possession below, for example. Asking the 20-year-old to guard one of the NBA’s best in Kawhi Leonard is no small task, but he quickly shows why the Lakers entrusted him with that assignment.
Talen takes, Gasol gives, Talen hits.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 14, 2020
Horton-Tucker has some of the fastest hands on the defensive end, and his reach allows him to be an elite disruptor regardless of who he’s guarding.
With the incredible depth that the Lakers have put together for the 2021 season, it’s still too early to guarantee that Talen Horton-Tucker sees any consistent playing time going forward. But with the nature of another pandemic-affected season, it has to feel good knowing that you have a spark plug like that ready to go when called upon.
Should any rotation player go down for an extended period of time due to COVID or any other reason, THT is confident that he can step in and be a difference-maker for the defending NBA champs.
— NBA (@NBA) December 12, 2020