Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker has undoubtedly struggled at times with his new role this season. Alongside LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, the slashing and scoring at the rim that defines his game are no longer needed.
Instead, Frank Vogel and the Lakers have placed him in a three-and-D role, preferring him to score in catch-and-shoot scenarios while playing strong defense. So while he had some difficulties upon returning from a preseason injury and some time in the health and safety protocols, he’s started to improve as of late.
Horton-Tucker has scored in double figures in five of his last nine games, including 20 points and seven assists on 9-of-14 shooting in a loss to the Indiana Pacers. Vogel referenced that performance when talking about Horton-Tucker’s recent improvements. “I think last game was one of his best offensive games of the season,” Vogel said.
“He’s really getting into a rhythm. Slowing down his reads around the basket. Shooting the ball with confidence and focusing on taking the right shots. What we saw from him last game is what we envisioned when we signed him this offseason. We feel like he can be a guy that improves as a three-point shooter, can put a lot of pressure on the rim and can make good decisions when he gets there and give us a strong defender on the other side of the ball.”
While Horton-Tucker’s 3-point shooting has been poor all season long, what is seeing a drastic increase is his efficiency from 2-point range. In his first 15 games, Horton-Tucker shot 46.5% from within the 3-point line, while shooting 27.8% from distance.
In his last 15 games, Horton-Tucker’s 3-point percentage is down to a measly 20.9%, but his 2-point efficiency is up to 55%. Eventually, the Lakers would love to see his 3-point percentage climb up to at least the low-30’s, and perhaps the increased 2-point percentages will give him some momentum on that front.
For now, the Lakers just want to see consistency out of their 21-year old combo guard, something that younger players notoriously struggle with. But in his third NBA season, Horton-Tucker has shown all the tools to be successful in this league.
Lakers shopping Horton-Tucker
Amid all the talk around his on-court improvements, the Lakers are continuing to use his name in trade talks. Given the salary structure of the team, Horton-Tucker must be included in basically any significant trade the team could possibly make.
Reportedly, the Lakers value Horton-Tucker but are understanding of the fact that he needs to be traded if the team wants to make an upgrade this season.
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