Los Angeles Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis sat out the team’s first two preseason games against the L.A. Clippers. Despite that — and the Clippers playing almost their full roster — the Lakers were able to come out with two wins.
A lot of that was credited to Talen Horton-Tucker, the youngest player on the Lakers roster.
Horton-Tucker did not see the floor much during his rookie season, as the Lakers were contending for a championship and wanted to give playing time to veterans. However, he always showed flashes of his ability when he did receive opportunities.
While Horton-Tucker’s spotlight grew this preseason, James had long been aware of his potential. And of course, Horton-Tucker went on to sign with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
“First of all, obviously the basketball, we can see what he’s capable of doing. For him to be 20 years old, he hasn’t even scratched the surface yet of what he’s going to be,” James said. “But the kid can flat-out play.
“I saw it about four years ago. I was watching a high school basketball game and I happened to catch Simeon playing. I told our agent at the time — he’s now Talen’s agent, Rich Paul — I said, ‘You need to take a look at this kid Talen Horton-Tucker that’s at Simeon. The kid is super talented.’ This was like four years ago.
“Long story short, obviously you see what he’s doing now. He’s going to continue to get better and better and better as the days go on. He gets an opportunity to practice against us, guys that are veterans and things of that nature, so he’s going to continue to improve. He’s going to do some really good things in this league for a long time.”
While James likely couldn’t have known just how good Horton-Tucker could be, he certainly saw something from that high school game four years ago.
It perhaps was a factor in the Lakers buying a second-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to select Horton-Tucker at No. 46 overall. Hopefully, he’ll get plenty more chances this season to show his potential as L.A. contends for another championship.
Frank Vogel believes Horton-Tucker will make his job difficult
With the emergence of Horton-Tucker during preseason, it’s possible that he’s earned real minutes during the regular season and playoffs. However, as the Lakers have one of the NBA’s deepest rosters, head coach Frank Vogel thinks that may make his job very difficult.
“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.”
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