Coming into this season, one of the most important players to watch for the Los Angeles Lakers was third-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker. With so many pieces gone and his improvement over his first two seasons, along with a new contract, Horton-Tucker was expected to play a big role on this Lakers team.
A thumb injury delayed his Lakers season debut, but when he finally got on the court he looked every bit like the player Frank Vogel, LeBron James and Anthony Davis had been touting him to be, pouring in at least 17 points in his first three games. But he has hit double-figure scoring just once in the eight games since and has struggled to grow into his new role alongside the Lakers’ three superstars.
Vogel has spoken about Horton-Tucker growing into a defensive stopper role this season and he continues to maintain belief about the kind of player the Lakers believe the young guard will ultimately become.
“We believe he’s going to be an above-average 3-point shooter that can carry the floor spacing necessary,” the Lakers head coach said.
“A great downhill attacker and we want to groom him to be a guy that takes the best matchup defensively each game, but there is still a grooming element to this season with him in that role. It’s going to take time, but all three of those things happening at a high level is what we’re hoping for.”
The Lakers are obviously in win-now mode, but Vogel is also continuing to try to groom and develop Horton-Tucker and is willing to live with the results. The talent of the third-year guard is undeniable, but he is still a ways away from becoming that player the Lakers envision him as.
Horton-Tucker has shown flashes of all the things Vogel has talked about, but it has yet to become a consistent staple in his game. His shooting stroke looks better and he is more confident in it, but Horton-Tucker’s 3-point percentage has fallen to just above 25% at this stage of the season.
Likewise, he has moments of greatness on defense where he uses his length to challenge and disrupt shots but still has a lot growth to become the Lakers’ defensive stopper.
Regardless of his struggles, the Lakers as a whole continue to express faith and belief in Horton-Tucker and will continue to push him to become that player everyone in the organization sees him as.
Davis says Horton-Tucker needs more time to regain rhythm
Davis has been one of many Lakers to maintain his belief in Horton-Tucker despite the recent struggles and continued to back his teammate.
“Talen, he’s struggling a little bit right now, but he’s gonna find his way,” Davis said after the loss to the Clippers. “He’s still doing things that help that don’t come up on the stat sheet.
“We’re kind of telling him that your first game was a lot of adrenaline, you came back with a lot of energy,” he added. “But you haven’t played in two months, so it’s gonna take some time for you to get back into a rhythm, game shape, all that stuff. So we’re just staying positive with him. But the lineup looked good and we’ll see how we move forward.”
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