Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said recently the franchise was extremely lucky to draft Talen Horton-Tucker with their 46th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Iowa State product’s role in L.A. has been steadily growing since the start of the 2020-21 season, particularly since injuries hit the reigning NBA champions last month. Horton-Tucker averaged 13.3 points per game and registered one of the highest defensive ratings on the team in the first three games following the All-Star break – prompting James to compliment his young teammate.
The 20-year-old reciprocated by praising the four-time NBA champion himself, saying his mentorship feels like a “gift.”
“It’s actually kind of funny, I was just talking to about it because ultimately me just learning from LeBron [James] is almost like a gift for me,” Horton-Tucker said. “Just being able to be around him and just pick up on little things he does is always great.”
Partnering James on the floor can surely be intimidating at times, his former Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers teammate JR Smith could speak to that.
But Horton-Tucker revealed there are elements of humor in the lessons he learns from the 36-year-old All-Star. “We were talking today and he was saying because he did a reverse layup and he was saying, ‘Talen you learned it from me, so I’m learning from you,’ “ he said.
“It’s kind of funny that he said that to me, but just having him around he’s pretty much the ultimate guy to look up to in this league, so I appreciate that.”
Anthony Davis observing Horton-Tucker from sidelines
Besides James, Horton-Tucker revealed the other Lakers All-Star, Anthony Davis – who has been vocal on the sidelines while nursing his calf injury — also offers valuable feedback on his game.
The 20-year-old guard said Davis’ guidance contributed to his post-All-Star form surge. “Just trying to listen, slow down and make my right reads,” Horton-Tucker said when asked about his biggest improvement this year.
“I was talking to A.D. and he was just telling me, ‘you make the right plays and good things happen.’ So just being able to continue to do that and just learn every game is something that I feel like I’ll be successful if I do that.”
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