With their 46th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Talen Horton-Tucker from Iowa State. Tonight, he showed that he is no mere second-round player after showing out for the LakeShow against James Harden and the Rockets.
He had 17 points, one less than LeBron James, and three less than Harden. The 20-year-old shot 7-8 from the field, including 2-3 from three. Not only was he unstoppable on offense but also a menace on defense.
THT left LeBron impressed after this tremendous performance.
He said, “Does it on both sides of the floor, and then he just listens. He’s a sponge. And he can apply it right away. Big-time game for a kid that’s still growing into his own, but he’s beyond his years.”
Last season, Tucker played just six games for the Lakers in the regular season, averaging 13.5 minutes per game. He also featured in two games in the playoffs, making him the youngest American to win an NBA title.
After a phenomenal preseason, he made his case to be an important part of the main rotation. He averaged 20 points per game while shooting over 50% from deep in the three preseason games he played. So now that coach Frank Vogel has given him the chance in the regular season, THT hasn’t disappointed so far.
He has played in 10/11 games for the Lakers, averaging 17 minutes per game off the bench. His two-way prowess is very impressive, and that makes him a real asset. Tucker has a good jumpshot, an eye for a pass, and with his massive 7’1 wingspan, he is adept at getting steals too. Tonight he had four steals, with one coming against Harden, one of the best dribblers in the game right now.
Tucker’s rise just makes the Lakers rotation even stronger. This depth was one of the key reasons for their triumph in 2020, and it could be the reason they win once again.
THT is just 20 now and has a long way to go in the league. But he is showing promise early in his career, which could definitely make him a starter for the Lakers in the coming years.
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