The Los Angeles Lakers own the oldest roster in the NBA with Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk, Stanley Johnson, and Anthony Davis being the only players in their 20s who enjoy regular rotation minutes.
Horton-Tucker is the youngest of the bunch, as he turned 21 just a few months ago. Although his performance still lacks consistency, the Iowa State alum’s youthful energy has made a difference in a few games this season.
Horton-Tucker — and Johnson, who is 25 — both recorded a solid performance in an otherwise embarrassing night for L.A. on Wednesday, when it lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, who had just hit the reset button. They then followed it up with solid performances again, although again in a losing effort to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.
Head coach Frank Vogel said the duo has become an important part of the veteran Lakers team.
“We need their young legs,” Vogel said at a recent practice. “That energy that they bring to the table on our group is a compliment to our vets. We need those guys playing with the energy that they’re playing with and the confidence that they’re playing with.
Horton-Tucker is 7-for-11 from three in his last two games. Vogel praised the guard’s rising confidence in catch-and-shoot situations as well as improvement in his pick-and-roll play.
“I thought Talen, in particular, was really, really good in that Portland game,” the head coach said. “It was one of those building-block games so to speak to just get him in the right spots with being comfortable and confident in the catch-and-shoot situations that he had, but also making plays in the pick-and-roll. We assembled some of our best offensive possessions with him using the pick-and-roll and spraying it out to the backside.
“Really triggering great ball movement, so I loved how he played.”
Meanwhile, Johnson has put his athleticism to a good use again by attacking the basket with aggressiveness.
“Stanley’s been a breath of fresh air for us since he got here with how hard he plays, the physicality that he plays with, and like I said, is a great compliment to our vets,” Vogel said of Johnson.
Horton-Tucker has better understanding of his role
Horton-Tucker seems to have left his early-season slump behind him and the guard said he’s figured out how to use his talent to help the Lakers on the court, although he added he can still add consistency to his game.
“I understand who I’m playing with and I understand the role I’m in almost now,” Horton-Tucker said. “Trying to … provide energy and just do a lot of different things on the court that don’t require having the ball in my hands. So whenever those shots start falling, I feel like it’s always going to be a good night for me.
“Just trying to stay consistent with that is the most important thing.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!