The Los Angeles Lakers — due to NBA rules — were allowed to bring 17 players to the Walt Disney World bubble.
Because of that, they went to Orlando, Florida, with newcomers JR Smith and Dion Waiters as well as their young South Bay players. Lakers second round pick Talen Horton-Tucker and two-way players Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok joined L.A. and may even see playing time.
Those three youngsters only got into a game a combined five times this season, playing a total of 10 minutes. However, everyone within the Lakers organization raves about the young talent they’ve collected while still being one of the league’s best teams.
Waiters, when asked if anyone has surprised him during Lakers practices, said Antetokounmpo and Horton-Tucker really stood out. “He’s really good, he’s young. I feel like he’s got a lot of upside,” Waiters said of Antetokounmpo. “He keeps working, getting better and being a sponge around the vets. I think he’s going to be solid.”
“Talen, also. I like Talen a lot. I built a relationship with Talen, I’ve been in his ear a lot, telling him to make sure he’s doing the little things and watch the group that goes before him (in drills) and just stay locked in. He’s got a lot of upside also.”
Horton-Tucker, who is just 19 years old, has received rave reviews from teammates on a number of occasions this season. Selected by the Lakers with the 46th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, he was immediately seen as one of the second round’s biggest steals.
The Lakers have talent evaluators that rival those of anyone across the league. They have always been praised for their ability to spot talent in the later parts of the draft.
Antetoukounmpo, Cacok and Horton-Tucker can be added alongside Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant, Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga when talking about draft picks that L.A. simply knocked out of the park.
Horton-Tucker received votes for biggest steal of 2019 Draft
In the 2019-20 Rookie survey done by the league, Horton-Tucker graded out as one of the steals of the draft. Although he was not a top vote-getter in this category, he did receive the 11th most votes, and was the lowest drafted player of anyone in the top 20 of the vote.
Perhaps part of what excites people about Horton-Tucker is his age – being just 19 – and his physical profile. While only 6’4″ as a shooting guard, Horton-Tucker has a linebacker build weighing 235 pounds with an incredible 7’1″ wingspan. His defensive and rebounding skills have unlimited potential, and has similar size hands to Kawhi Leonard.
Waiters is clearly seeing exactly what the Lakers scouts saw when he looks at these young players.
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