For anybody who attended Lakers games final 12 months, earlier than our world was within the throes of a pandemic, a well-recognized sight throughout warmups was then-rookie Talen Horton-Tucker, sitting on the team’s bench with an assistant coach and searching over movie on a laptop computer or pill. Before he was taking part in actual minutes for the team that may go on to win the title, earlier than he had a lot NBA tape of his personal to take a look at, he was nonetheless attempting to soak in as a lot data as doable, to soak up each doable tip for a way he may enhance.
We bought our first glimpse on the outcomes of that effort throughout the second spherical of the playoffs, and now Horton-Tucker has come into the preseason taking part in with such spectacular pressure and ability that his game is actually demanding minutes on the defending champs. He’s earned reward from his teammates and outsiders alike for his efforts, but it surely hasn’t modified his focus. He’s nonetheless doing what bought him to this point.
The newest teammate to take discover was Anthony Davis, who joins the lengthy line of individuals blown away by the sophomore’s progress (by way of Spectrum SporstNet):
“He played his ass off. He’s been great from day one, even in the bubble last year. He’s been great for us. And he’s a kid who wants to learn, a kid who wants to go out there and compete and get thrown into the fire. He doesn’t shy away from matchups, he doesn’t shy away from big moments, he listens and that’s all you can ask for from a guy who is a young player.
“For him to come in and play with so much confidence and do big things for us on defense and on the offensive end, it’s huge for us. He’s going to play a big role for us this year, and he’s continuing to learn. This is his second year and he’s still learning the game, so the future is bright for him for sure.”
Davis is a future Hall of Famer and burgeoning Lakers legend, however look: It’s truthful to be skeptical. Of course he has love for a fellow Chicago child and Klutch shopper who he took below his wing, proper?
Well, if his evaluation isn’t adequate for you, and not one of the different glowing evaluations of Horton-Tucker’s play documented on this website and elsewhere over the final week or so are, then how a couple of present Hall-of-Famer, member of the Showtime Lakers, and man who performed with Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar throughout his career? Because even James Worthy is raving about Horton-Tucker, and saying he must be on the floor, even when the games depend.
“He’s gotta play. He cannot be denied minutes the way he’s playing, I’m sorry.” -@JamesWorthy42 , shaking his head whereas speaking about THT on @SpectrumSN
— Laker Film Room Horton-Tucker (@LakerFilmRoom) December 19, 2020
Normally we’d take all this with a grain of salt. NBA players, each present and former, reward younger guys all of the time as a result of it’s the suitable factor to do, and to present them confidence. What they don’t usually do, although — and what makes this completely different — is go so far as these varied figures are when speaking about Horton-Tucker. These are a variety of sensible, longtime basketball observers who’re blown away by this child, and it’s hard accountable them should you’ve watched him play to this point this month. His footwork and expertise are exemplary for a 20-year-old, and his stats throughout the preseason are eye-popping. He has clearly put the work in.
THT within the preseason: 20.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 55% FG, 54% 3pt FG, 90% FT, 66.8% TS.
— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) December 19, 2020
How for actual is all of this? We don’t know. But at this point, the Lakers owe it to Horton-Tucker and themselves to seek out out. It gained’t be simple, however they’ve to seek out him some regular rotation minutes this season. Thankfully, if Davis is to be believed, it appears like that’s just about already locked in. All that’s left is to be affected person and watch the outcomes.