During the abbreviated NBA offseason, the champion Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dennis Schroder, re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and signed Wesley Matthews to make sure they remained well-stocked at guard for their title defense.
If Talen Horton-Tucker, 20, keeps opening people’s eyes with his play, the Lakers might be deeper than they expected.
The 6-foot-4 Horton-Tucker, who has a 7-1 wingspan, took advantage of several Lakers stars being out of the lineup to pound the Los Angeles Clippers with 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in a 131-106 preseason win Sunday.
A Lakers second-round pick in 2019 (No. 46 overall), Horton-Tucker played just 81 minutes across six games last season. But now he could be playing his way into a spot in the Lakers’ rotation.
“It’s going to make my job difficult for sure,” coach Frank Vogel said Sunday night.
“We have a very deep team. No minutes are guaranteed,” Vogel continued. “He’s going to keep playing at a high level, and that should push everybody else to stay playing at a high level. It does give us that luxury of having him carry the load some for some of our guys who played deep in the championship run last year and had a short offseason.”
Horton-Tucker is relishing the opportunity.
“It’s actually crazy because I feel like what other 19-, 20-year-old gets this experience in the world? Not too many,” he said. “So just being able to take everything in and learn from it every day, seeing other superstars kind of notice it is actually pretty good.”