Talen Horton-Tucker played his college ball at Illinois. As a freshman, he averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2,3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. After his freshman season, Horton-Tucker decided to declare for the NBA Daft. He was selected in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Horton-Tucker spent most of his rookie season with the South Bay Lakers in the G-League; the former Illinois star averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game for South Bay. Horton-Tucker shot 42% from the field and 30% from three-point land. In-game two of the western conference playoffs against the Houston Rockets, Horten-Tucker played in games one and two. He played some crucial minutes in game two and scored nine points on 4-7 shooting from the field. It was a small sample size, but it proved that Horton -Tucker was not scared of big moments.
Horton-Tucker came into this preseason determined to earn his way into the Lakers rotation. In the Lakers’ first exhibition against the Los Angeles Clippers, Horton-Tucked ran the point guard position for most of the game and played well. He finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, and four assist in 37 minutes. The guard played well on both sides of the floor and impressed a lot of people.
Horton followed that performance with 33 points and ten rebounds two nights later. He did everything well, hit jump shots, and drove to the basket. Anthony Davis and LeBron James came back for the final two preseason games, and Horton-Tucker went back to the bench but continued to play well. He scored 18 and 12 points in the Lakers’ last two preseason games.
Horton-Tucker averaged 20.5 points per game in four preseason games and looked to have earned a spot in the rotation. But it remains to be seen how coach Frank Vogel will use him.
It will be hard for Vogel to find Minutes for Horton-Tucker, with Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews, and Alex Caruso‘s additions on the roster. But Horton-Tocker deserves minutes, and I’m sure Vogel will find some for him.
As good as Hotron-Tucker was on offense this preseason showing his offensive repertoire, he played good defense as well. At 6-4 230 pounds, Horton-Tucker has a 7-foot wingspan. With his size and long arms, he could be a versatile defender for the Lakers. Having lost Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers could use the former Illinois star perimeter defense.
“I feel like just coming in with me using my defensive instincts and being able to compete on the defensive end is going to be something that helps me get on the court,” Horton-Tucker said. “So I feel like being in that role prepares me to carry a heavier offensive role in the near future.”
James could miss some games to rest with the quick turnaround for the Lakers this season, and Horton-Tucker could step in to get his minutes in games James does not play. Horton-Tucker showed versatility on both sides of the court; he will guard multiple positions and finish around the basket with his long arms.