Through two games of preseason action for the Los Angeles Lakers, Talen Horton-Tucker has turned heads as he has looked more confident on both ends of the floor.
In their first game against the L.A. Clippers, Wesley Matthews revealed Horton-Tucker caught the attention of Kawhi Leonard, a sign that the second-year player is making a name for himself.
Lakers Head coach Frank Vogel opted to start Horton-Tucker at point guard and the results were outstanding as he finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and four steals in 41 minutes of action. “I wasn’t sure what to expect from him playing point guard for us as much as he did tonight,” Vogel said.
“But he did that some in the G League last year and looked really comfortable with that. More importantly, he showed more of what we’ve seen from him since we’ve been watching him in the G League, the season and bubble: his ability to attack offensively in a variety of different ways, attacking the basket with great finishing ability, making great paint decisions, shooting the 3-ball well, and he had a strong defensive night as well.
“I knew he was going to play big minutes, so not really surprised at the numbers he put up.”
Horton-Tucker’s play might force Vogel’s hand during the 2020-21 season as he has proven he deserves minutes. “It’s going to make my job difficult, for sure,” Vogel said. “We have a very deep team and no minutes are guaranteed. If he’s going to keep playing at a high level, that should push everybody to play at a high level.
“But it does give us that luxury having him carry the load for some of our guys who played deep in a championship run and had a short offseason. He should be able to carry some of that load.”
Vogel will likely look limit LeBron James and Anthony Davis to begin the new season, so it stands to reason that Horton-Tucker should continue to see extended opportunities. It will be interesting to see how large of a role the young guard carves out for himself when the games begin to matter.
How Vogel can create more minutes for Talen Horton-Tucker
The Lakers boast a deep roster, meaning Vogel will need to be creative when trying to find time for Horton-Tucker.
One way Vogel can manufacture minutes would be to run a smaller second unit lineup of Horton-Tucker, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. Alternatively, Vogel could opt to siphon minutes from Wesley Matthews if the opposing team does not have a dangerous wing player to defend.
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