For the most part, the Los Angeles Lakers are a team full of veterans looking to bring the organization its 18th NBA Championship. There is one major exception to that, however, and that is the talented second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker.
Head coach Frank Vogel has insisted that they will live with the growing pains of their young guard in order to make him better in the long run and that is exactly what is coming to fruition. On some nights Horton-Tucker has looked like a future star while other times it looks like he would be a liability for the team’s upcoming playoff run.
Regardless of how he contributes in the postseason, this season is undoubtedly viewed as a positive one for Horton-Tucker himself.
Following an excellent 23-point, 10-assist performance in the Lakers’ victory over the Houston Rockets, Horton-Tucker discussed how much he has learned through his experiences this season.
“Like I’ve always said, it’s been a big learning experience for me. … I’ve just been appreciative of it and just this whole few months span throughout the quarantine and things like that has just been really great for my growth.”
Thanks to the injuries to basically all of the Lakers’ primary playmakers, Horton-Tucker has taken on the lead guard role in the team’s past two wins. Though he hit the game-winner against the New York Knicks, his seven turnovers on the night was less than ideal and has been an issue for him much of this season as is to be expected with a young guard.
The three turnovers against the Rockets were much more palatable, but one of those came in the final minute with the game on the line. Always tough on himself, Horton-Tucker was not happy with that play but kept the bigger picture in mind.
“Of course you don’t want that to happen. Go watch film. There’s always another day, so just going back on it is something that I’m going to continue to work on to change for the next time. We still got the win, so that’s the most important thing.”
Obviously the Lakers’ immediate goal is to win the 2021 NBA Championship, but they have been trying to develop a potential major future piece at the same time. Injuries have basically forced him into an even bigger role than anyone expected, but it looks as if he has come out of the other side even better. That is a massive win in both the short and long-term of this franchise.
Vogel believes Horton-Tucker has done a ‘phenomenal job’
The recent performance of the Lakers’ young guard has not gone unnoticed by head coach Frank Vogel. Horton-Tucker has been the team’s only legitimate lead guard for the last two contests, and Vogel had high praise for him after the game.
“Talen has done a great job for us. Let’s highlight the positive,” Vogel said. “He’s carrying a big load, being asked to basically run the whole team with all our point guards and quarterbacks out. He’s really a scoring two, and he’s doing a phenomenal job helping us in the last two games.”
The Lakers only have a couple of guards who can truly be trusted to create for themselves and others and Horton-Tucker is one of them. Once the playoffs begin, Horton-Tucker will be an important weapon and what he has done in this stretch shows what he is capable of in both the near and distant future.
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