As the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in the NBA finals and two wins from their first title since 2010, the team has had to rely on a number of roster combinations in order to reach this part of the postseason.
Among the more notable rotations to come into play was the one that featured a solid dosage of Talen Horton-Tucker during Games 4 and 5 of the second-round series against the Houston Rockets. Despite appearing in only six games during the regular season, Horton-Tucker managed to provide a spark off the bench when his number was called.
While Horton-Tucker has been relegated back to the inactive list or bench in the time since, he still found a way to get in the action after he was knocked to the ground while celebrating the buzzer-beater by Anthony Davis in Game 2 against the Denver Nuggets.
Aside from taking hits from Davis, Horton-Tucker also received some solid praise from his fellow Chicago native, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
“He comes in and he’s not afraid of the moment,” Davis said. “He wants to defend. He wants to learn. He wants to get better. He’s in the gym all the time. He’s a great rookie. He’s going to have a great career in this league. … He’s a guy who wants to be in the lights and wants to get better. For a rookie, you don’t see that often, especially from a guy who doesn’t have the name in the league. Some of the rookies like Ja [Morant] and Zion [Williamson], you expect it. For him, a guy who wasn’t drafted high to make an impact on a game is big for us.”
Horton-Tucker spent the bulk of the 2019-20 season as a star for the South Bay Lakers in the G League. Regardless, the Lakers had him make the trip with them to the Orlando bubble in lieu of the notable absences they had with depth in the backcourt.
Any rookie would be hard pressed trying to etch out a role for themselves on a Lakers squad with title expectations going into the year. The experience Horton-Tucker is gaining now should help pay some major dividends for his development.
Davis relishing in advice from LeBron James
Davis may be doing what he can to help lift up the younger players on the roster, however, he is also simultaneously learning the ropes of leading a franchise with high expectations like the Lakers. He knew full well the pressure that came with his pairing alongside LeBron James and they have managed to surpass such expectations.
Davis feels being able to share the load with James has helped serve as a stabilizing factor for him during touch stretches.
“Especially being in L.A., the biggest market in basketball. I know the quote, unquote, pressure is going to be on us, going to be on me, especially the first year with everything that happened last year, and then also playing alongside ‘Bron,” Davis said.
“I know he gets criticized more than any basketball player ever. So just being able to play alongside him, and he kind of helped me with all this quote, unquote, pressure, going out and playing.”
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