With LeBron James and Anthony Davis — among a handful of others — sitting out the Los Angeles Lakers’ first two preseason games, Talen Horton-Tucker became the focal point of back-to-back wins.
Despite playing against a full-strength L.A. Clippers roster, the Lakers won both meetings thanks in large part to Horton-Tucker’s phenomenal play. Even though it’s only the preseason, seeing this type of production out of a 20-year-old is remarkable.
Even Clippers star Kawhi Leonard took notice, promoting a mid-game conversation with Wesley Matthews about the second-year player.
“Like I always say, I look at it as a blessing,” Horton-Tucker said of the recognition. “It’s actually crazy, I feel like what other 19, 20 year old gets this experience in the world? Not too many.
“So just being able to take everything in and learn from it every day is good. Seeing other superstars notice is pretty good.”
When discussing his career path so far, he felt that teammate Alex Caruso was a good comparison. “Everybody’s journey is different, but I feel like A.C.’s is a pretty good one. Having him next to me is a good measuring stick,” Horton-Tucker said.
“Being able to have a guy like that, see the success he’s had, gives me confidence in myself.”
After Horton-Tucker’s preseason performance, it’s possible he’ll carve out a solid role for himself during the regular season. As a lengthy wing defender who can score at will, he fits in perfectly on the Lakers roster, and his development is likely why the team never pursued other wings in free agency.
Especially during a regular season where players may have to miss games at a moment’s notice due to coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols, having someone guy like Horton-Tucker towards the end of the bench becomes very helpful.
Frank Vogel believes Horton-Tucker can contribute immediately
Even with just a week of team practice before the first preseason game, Lakers coach Frank Vogel was excited for Horton-Tucker’s development. So much so, he stated that Horton-Tucker would become an immediate contributor.
“He’s had a great two days here, I’m coaching him harder than a lot of the veterans because I think he’s got a chance to be really good for us immediately,” Vogel said. “I couldn’t be happier with the start that he’s off to.”
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