When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired the 46th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, many expected the selection to be a project. Rightly so, and it was the versatile 18-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker that was the chosen one. The youngest player in the draft.
Coming out of a single-season at Iowa State, Horton-Tucker holds a particularly unusual body shape. Standing at just 6-foot-4, he weighed 238-pounds at the time of the draft, whilst possessing a huge 7-foot-1 wingspan. These are certainly unique numbers for an NBA guard, which caused eyes to drift in his direction.
But, with the Lakers not being in rebuild anymore and holding aspirations to push for Championship honours, Horton-Tucker was quickly assigned to the G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. This was expected, as the average age for the Lakers roster is 29.1, according to Real GM. The second oldest roster in the NBA, behind the Houston Rockets. There’s no real room for 18-year-old rookies in Lakerland anymore.
The majority of the 2019/20 campaign will be, and has been, spent in the G-League for Horton-Tucker. He has featured in 2 NBA games so far, however. December 9 versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, and December 23 against the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately, he has failed to register a single point in those appearances. But, in his defense, he has only attempted one 3-pointer and has played a total of 5 minutes on an NBA court so far.
In the G-League, the now 19-year-old has seen struggles. Even though he is averaging 15.6 points per game, he is only converting at a 38% clip from the field and 30% from 3-point land. Although, his versatility has been clear to see, as he has averaged 5.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.2 steals per game also.
Every now-and-then we see some impressive footwork that leads to flashy, polished, offensive moves. In addition, we see highlight-worthy slams and blocks as well. In the past 3 games, we’ve seen more-and-more of this in-fact, which is getting Lakers fans excited for the Chicago-born guard’s future.
On December 31, Horton-Tucker poured in a career-high 35 points in a South Bay Lakers win over the Texas Legends. In the game, he shot 12-22 from the field, including nailing 5 3-pointers. He recorded 6 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block too, to round-up an impressive performance.
It was certainly his most impressive performance in the professional ranks, to date. Although, since that game Horton-Tucker has been remaining consistent. In his past 3 appearances, he is converting at a much better 52.3% from the field, and 37.2% from beyond the arc. In that time, he is recording averages of 23.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.3 steals.
These aren’t ridiculously high numbers, but they represent a young, raw talent taking a step forward in his professional development. The Lakers fans aren’t expecting him to come forward and contribute on an NBA court this season, and probably not next season either. Horton-Tucker is a project for the future, and a unique one at that.
Lakers star Anthony Davis is doing his part by taking him under his wing also. “Anytime I get a chance to help him I try to. I try to talk to him if he’s struggling with something, or if I see something I try to help him out. I know him from Chicago when he played in high school, so I was always trying to be there for him and help him through these challenges,” Davis recently stated.
It will be very interesting to see if the 19-year-old can keep his recent performances up. With that will come more NBA opportunities. He’s definitely a talent to keep track of.