Talen Horton-Tucker remains a major part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rotation this season thanks to his rapid progress combined with personnel issues affecting the defending NBA champions in recent weeks.
The 20-year-old guard is averaging over 17 minutes per game and has already made 34 appearances during the 2020-21 campaign, a major upgrade compared to the six games he played for L.A. in his rookie season. His shifts off the bench often provide the Lakers with an energy boost and vigor characteristic for a young, talented player.
Head coach Frank Vogel said he admires Horton-Tucker’s hustle. However, he pointed out the guard’s inexperience and added it can sometimes understandably result in errors on the floor. “Talen plays like a young player,” Vogel said. “He’s fearless, I love that part about him, he was trying to dunk on the leading shot-blocker last night, making some good plays.
“But he certainly makes his fair share of mistakes as well and that’s part of having a young player. But his attitude, his willingness to get better, his confidence in himself, it’s everything you want in a young player and we’re very pleased with what he has brought to the table for us this year.”
Despite the mistakes, Vogel continues trusting Horton-Tucker and even inserted the young guard into the starting lineup last month to test out “different looks” for the Lakers. The Iowa State product is registering 7.2 points, 1.9 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game, shooting 48.4% from the field and 28.2% from behind the three-point line.
Horton-Tucker doesn’t feel targeted on defense
Horton-Tucker is aware he’s just beginning to learn NBA basketball and understands his inexperience might sometimes manifest itself in bad decisions during games, particularly on the defensive end.
But while still fresh to the league, he doesn’t think opponents target him in offensive schemes. “I really don’t think so,” he said. “I just feel like sometimes you’re just in that position, so I don’t feel like they’re picking on me.”
As one of the youngest players in the NBA, it is clear that Horton-Tucker still has a ways to go to reach his potential, although the upside to be great is definitely there.
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