Last month, on Nov. 20, Talen Horton-Tucker turned 20 years old. The month before, he became the first player born in 2000 to win an NBA championship. This month, he’s shown that he’s more mature than his age suggests.
Through the Lakers’ first two preseason games, Horton-Tucker has averaged 26 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 55.6% shooting from behind the 3-point line. He’s also averaged 9.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3.5 steals per game.
Horton-Tucker’s head-turning numbers might just be a product of the quality of basketball that’s played in the preseason, but his teammates aren’t taking anything away from his early performances. After the Lakers’ win over the Clippers on Sunday, in which Horton-Tucker exploded for 33 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope praised Horton-Tucker for the way he’s attacked his sophomore season.
“Nothing but just greatness,” Caldwell-Pope said of what he’s seen from the second-year guard. “He’s been playing like that since the start of training camp in practice: Just being aggressive, getting downhill, making plays, just being a solid all-around player. And he’s showing that he put in the work this summer.
“He’s amazing man. He’s an amazing young kid.”
The most impressive thing about Horton-Tucker’s breakout is the timing. Horton-Tucker didn’t have a typical first year in the NBA. He missed Summer League last year because of an injury, and he didn’t play in Summer League this year because there was no Summer League. He also didn’t have the luxury of a full offseason, as he and the Lakers only had a two-month break after winning the NBA championship in October.
Horton-Tucker’s production might not be sustainable, but he deserves a ton of credit for the way he prepared for the preseason, and the confidence he’s played with thus far. Those things, in addition to his natural talent, will go along way for him in the NBA, and in earning him the trust of a veteran-heavy locker room.