After a promising second season, the Los Angeles Lakers expected big things out of Talen Horton-Tucker during the 2021-22 campaign.
Horton-Tucker was hyped up to be one of the team’s 3-and-D wings, but that role ill-fit the young guard who looked much more comfortable driving to the rim with the ball in his hands.
When the Lakers shockingly missed the playoffs, the team decided to make a change by trading Stanley Johnson and Horton-Tucker to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Patrick Beverley. Months after the trade and ahead of his return, Horton-Tucker spoke about his experience in Los Angeles and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity, via Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group:
“Just being able to be around great players, just coming into the league with an understanding of how to work hard, how to become a star in the NBA,” he said of his time with the Lakers. “Being able to be around them guys, I appreciate it. I appreciate (the Lakers), too. Just welcoming me with open arms, even Bron texts me to this day, wishing me luck and stuff like that.”
The Jazz are one of the surprises of the young 2022-23 season and Horton-Tucker attributed part of their success to their young roster playing with something to prove:
“I feel like guys are hungry to prove they’re good,” Horton-Tucker said. “And I feel like we know that we’re good. We got NBA players. So we feel like we can compete with pretty much anybody. So being able to have a team like that, to have an attitude coming into games adds to everything else.”
Horton-Tucker made his return to Los Angeles and was greeted warmly by the crowd and a video tribute from the team:
Your #Lakers THT tribute video: pic.twitter.com/8ojkIDxpsl
— Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand) November 5, 2022
Most around the league figured Utah would try to bottom out after trading away Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in the offseason, but so far they’re right at the top of the Western Conference standings. Although they don’t employ a true star, their group of role players has bought in both ends of the floor and have played good basketball up to this point and the Lakers found that out the hard way in their loss on Friday night.
It remains to be seen if that will continue with high-level prospects available in the 2023 NBA Draft, but it seems like Horton-Tucker may have found a home after mixed years in Los Angeles.
Talen Horton-Tucker was on an island during 2021-22 season
Last year’s Laker roster was full of older veterans who were clearly coming to the end of their NBA careers. Horton-Tucker was one of the few young players on the team, and he reportedly didn’t have too many friends due to the age gap between him and his teammates.
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