Although the Los Angeles Lakers are chasing an NBA championship during the restart, they have intriguing young players waiting in the wings who have impressed in the Walt Disney World bubble.
One of them is Talen Horton-Tucker who was selected No. 46 overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2019 NBA Draft but traded to the Lakers. Horton-Tucker spent most of the season developing in the G League, but has received opportunities during scrimmages in Orlando.
Since practicing with the parent team, players like Kyle Kuzma have had rave reviews for the guard. “Talen is a great player, he’s just young. He’s a young player obviously playing on an older team,” Kuzma said.
“He’s had to be in the G League a lot because there wasn’t any time. He’s developed in the G League and had a good camp.”
Kuzma can relate to Horton-Tucker as he is one of the few young players on the roster, but has still taken up mentoring the rookie. “He was a young guy and I was trying to help him since I’m young too. I know Talen. That’s my boy,” he added.
“I just try to tell him about my days as a rookie. A lot of times when you’re a young guy you always take the fall and blame for a lot of things, a lot of mishaps in practice. It’s frustrating, but I try to tell him it’s part of the process and everybody goes through it.
“He’s just a young guy that wants to take everything in. He’s a sponge, loves basketball, loves being around us, loves everything about it.”
Aside from Kuzma, Dion Waiters also has been impressed with Horton-Tucker during their time together. His blend of size and skill makes him an intriguing player and it will be fun to see him grow and develop with the team.
Frank Vogel getting to know Talen Horton-Tucker
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has built a solid reputation in NBA for his ability to teach and relate to players, and so far that has proven true in his first year in L.A..
Vogel has a positive rapport with the roster which in turn has helped their performance on the floor. The Orlando bubble provides a unique opportunity for the coaching staff to bond with the players more and Vogel singled out Horton-Tucker as someone he has gotten to know better.
“The young man has had a great camp for us. We really didn’t get a lot of opportunity to see him play, or his on-the-court personality,” Vogel said.
“He was in the G League most of our season, so I personally did not spend a whole lot of time with him individually. I’ve enjoyed that process. He’s a quiet young man but he’s confident and a joy to be around.”
Despite the lack of time together, Vogel noted how much Horton-Tucker has grown since joining the team. “His body changed. He did an incredible job from the offseason last year when we drafted him up until this point right now to really change his body,” the Lakers’ coach added.
“Dropped a lot of weight and got himself in great shape. And he did a lot of work on his shot. His perimeter shot has really improved throughout the course of this year. Because of those two things, he had some success. With that success, really brought a lot of confidence to him as a young player. That’s what’s showing up right now, is how confident he’s playing.
“He’s playing beyond his years in these practices and scrimmages. We’re excited with what he’s doing.”
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