Entering the 2021-22 season, all eyes were on Talen Horton-Tucker after the Los Angeles Lakers decided to bring him back on a three-year deal.
Horton-Tucker was coming off a season where he showed his immense upside and what kind of player he could turn into for the Lakers. All offseason much was made about Horton-Tucker’s potential as an elite 3-and-D player, but that expectation has not been met as the young guard has struggled with inconsistent play and changing roles.
Frustration amongst the fan base had been building up as it pertained to Horton-Tucker, but the 21-year-old may have flipped the script after his impressive performance in the team’s win against the Sacramento Kings. He came off the bench and 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go along with four rebounds and six assists in 33 minutes.
While it would be easy for any player to let a string of poor performances get to them, Horton-Tucker revealed that he was just fine during his down stretch.
“I feel like I try to treat every game the same way,” Horton-Tucker said after the win. “Through those times where I wasn’t shooting the ball well, I still was going out there shooting so I didn’t lose any confidence at all, even if I played bad. So just being able to have a mindset like that around a group like this is gonna do wonders for me. So I feel like just staying positive is kind of what I did with my energy.”
The guard has played both off the bench and in the starting lineup, and even though that would be frustrating for most players to go through he has stayed even-keeled throughout the process and focused on his on-court production.
“I just try to control what I can control. Just being in the position I am with the team that we have, a lot of things are out of my control. The one thing that I can control is just what I do on the floor and that’s coming out and trying to play as hard as I can. If I’m not making shots, do something else to try to fill that void. But just for the most part, just trying to stay solid through it all.”
This was about as encouraging of a game the Lakers could have hoped for Horton-Tucker as he resembled the player the organization bet on in the offseason. Against Sacramento, Horton-Tucker was relentless in getting to the basket and even showed more confidence in his jumper. He even snapped his 3-point shooting drought after burying one of his two attempts on the night.
As the team gets healthier and begins to find its groove, Horton-Tucker will remain a pivotal piece in what they are building and should be able to help them get to where they need to go. Even though it was just one game, it was cathartic to see Horton-Tucker play so well.
Horton-Tucker explains why confidence never left
At just 21 years of age, it can be easy for a player like Horton-Tucker to lose confidence when things aren’t going well. That isn’t in his DNA though.
“I feel like my confidence never left at all. The type of person I am, I work so hard that I be upset with myself when something is not going right just because the work I put in and how you trust in yourself. But my confidence is how I feel like I got to this point now, never went anywhere. So I want to just continue to try and build on it.”
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