by Chris Camello (@chris_camello)
LOS ANGELES — There was already excitement for the Los Angeles Lakers 2020-2021 season. They re-loaded their roster during this expedited offseason acquiring some very talented and hungry players to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
As if that wasn’t enough, somebody else has forcefully shifted the spotlight on to himself during preseason.
Second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker has been the talk of the town after three impressive performances, including a monstrous 33-point, 10-rebound, and 4-steal game against the Clippers.
Amidst tremendous depth, they now have the dynamic, 20-year-old in their arsenal. However, it won’t be easy finding him minutes according to head coach Frank Vogel.
“It’s going to make my job difficult for sure,” Vogel said after the Lakers’ win over the Clippers last weekend. “We have a very deep team; and no minutes are guaranteed. He’s going to keep playing at a high level; that should push everyone else to be playing at a high level.”
What the Lakers should expect is for this former second-round pick to come out and play hard every night. He’s aggressive attacking the hoop but still plays under control; he’s a capable playmaker and ball handler; he’s got three-point range; he’s a tough defender with a long wingspan, and isn’t short of confidence.
Being effective and efficient in short minutes is what’s going to make him valuable to this Lakers roster full of vets who will require minutes on most nights.
Where THT also pays dividends is if somebody is injured, ill with COVID, or just load managing, Vogel can plug THT into the lineup and get great production.
However, on the nights where the Lakers are fully healthy, it may be tough for THT (Talen Horton-Tucker) to poach minutes away from Wesley Matthews, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or Kyle Kuzma.
Vogel went through this situation last season with Alex Caruso. Even in a deep backcourt, Caruso’s energy, defense, and athleticism allowed him to emerge as a key rotation player. Sometimes guys just will themselves into the lineup with sheer hard work and desire.
Perhaps the same could happen with THT. In a season that’s bound to be unpredictable, there’s no such thing as too much depth