Coming into the season, the Los Angeles Lakers were open about their belief in Talen Horton-Tucker growing into a much larger role, especially with the perimeter players who were no longer with the team.
While Horton-Tucker did continue to show flashes, he also had his fair share of struggles as his role changed regularly depending on who else was available for the Lakers.
Horton-Tucker has proven to be at his best with the ball in his hands, but with both LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on the roster, Horton-Tucker was forced to play off the ball much more. This often led to subpar performances from the young guard throughout the season, but despite all of the ups and downs, Horton-Tucker viewed everything as a learning experience this season.
“I feel like every situation that I’ve been in is almost like a learning experience,” Horton-Tucker said. “Being on the ball, off the ball, it’s experience that you need. Obviously I felt better with the ball in my hands and I felt I had success with that, but just learning to play with stars was the most important thing they wanted me to do.
“During those stretches I got to play a lot more. Bron was out to start, and then to finish the season we had some other guys out. Just the opportunity to have the ball in my hands and play and be at my best… It felt good to actually do that.”
There is always an adjustment to be made when playing with star players, especially those who have the ball as much as LeBron and Westbrook do. Every player is not accustomed to moving and working without the ball and that is a big adjustment that many struggle to make.
It’s also worth noting that Horton-Tucker is still just 21 years old with plenty of time to develop and improve his game. He was thrust into a much larger role this season and wasn’t quite ready for it, but he seems to have the right mindset to improve because of his struggles.
Changes will surely be made this offseason and that could allow Horton-Tucker to blossom more with the Lakers next season by having the ball in his hands more. But if he doesn’t, his experiences this season will only help him moving forward.
Horton-Tucker understood role would change coming into season
Having to play without the ball is something Horton-Tucker isn’t accustomed to, but it is definitely something he expected as he understood he had to fit in with the Lakers’ stars.
“Coming into the year, I understood who I was playing with,” Horton-Tucker said. “Playing with Bron, AD, and Russ. Those being the guys that will have the ball in their hands. I knew I was going to have to settle into a role that I wasn’t going to have the ball.”
The important thing now for Horton-Tucker will be growing from this and coming back even stronger next season.
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