Talen Horton-Tucker emerged as one of the most promising homegrown talents for the Los Angeles Lakers during their 2020 title run in Orlando, Fla.
Horton-Tucker spent some time with the team’s G League affiliate South Bay Lakers, until working his way onto the roster full-time last season. His ability to create his own shot went on full display, and he was viewed as an integral piece of an otherwise thin backcourt during the Lakers’ title defense.
Despite his skill set as a scorer, Horton-Tucker served as a primary ball-handler in the rotation. While he certainly endured his fair share of growing pains, it is evident that the Purple and Gold are high on his potential moving forward.
After all, reports indicated that the Lakers turned down a trade for Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry partly because Horton-Tucker was included in the package deal. This means the team will likely do all they can to ensure he sticks around in restricted free agency.
Horton-Tucker appeared in 65 games for L.A. this season, with four of them coming as a starter. He finished with averages of 9.0 points and 2.8 assists in 20.1 minutes per game.
Although the increase in playing time allowed Horton-Tucker to show off his promise, it also revealed the shortcomings in his game. He took some criticism for his decision-making during stretches of the season, but the game started to slow down for the 20-year-old. His most glaring issue was undoubtedly the 28.2% he shot from beyond the arc.
The nature of the Lakers’ first-round series versus the Phoenix Suns did not allow for much flexibility from head coach Frank Vogel. As a result, he averaged just 6.5 points in 12.0 minutes per game during the postseason.
Horton-Tucker managed to one-up himself on several occasions throughout the year. His best stretch occurred mostly during April and May as the team was trying to get as healthy as possible for their upcoming title defense.
He took advantage of the increased playing time with averages of 11.5 points, and 4.1 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game while recording three of his four double-doubles at this time.
Horton-Tucker is set to test the market as a restricted free agent this offseason. Early rumblings indicate that he is expected to garner his fair share of interest from potential suitors hoping to secure young talent at a bargain price compared to other more experienced options.
Even though the Lakers have just five players under contract for the 2021-22 season, they will not have many resources to spend on incoming free agents. Given how high they are on Horton-Tucker, a team may need to overspend on an offer sheet if they hope to take him away.
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