Talen Horton-Tucker hasn’t seen the floor much as of late. In the last five games, the preseason sensation has played just 24 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers, and in one of those games, he played 21 minutes. He didn’t even play at all in three of them.
Horton-Tucker’s drop in playing time can be attributed to the fact that both Alex Caruso and Wesley Matthews are back in the rotation after missing several games. It also probably has something to do with the fact that he’s struggled offensively.
However, no reason is good enough for Jared Dudley, who told his former teammate Danny Green that he believes Horton-Tucker should be getting more meaningful minutes under Frank Vogel during a recent episode of “Inside the Green Room”:
Dudley: “And the biggest thing, and there’s been whispers, but this kid Talen... Talen Horton-Tucker, bruh, I mean it’s ridiculous. He’s gotta play. I don’t know what Frank Vogel, Rob Pelinka gotta do, this kid has to play. He’s gotta play NOW. It’s ridiculous. His scoring ability, he brings a facet to the game that we don’t have. His confidence, I know he may have just turned 20 and I’ll be shocked if he’s not starting next year. I’m throwing that out there.”
Danny: “Nah, he’s talented man, you know that kid has got it.”
Danny: “And you know when a kid has got game, and I agree with you man, he’s tough. And I agree with you, he’s an X-factor for sure.”
This isn’t the first time that Dudley has sung Horton-Tucker’s praises. In November, he said he expected Horton-Tucker to be “huge” for the Lakers and average anywhere from 15-20 minutes per game — and for the most part, Dudley is right.
Horton-Tucker may have his faults as a second-year guard, but the Lakers are a better team in some respects when he’s on the floor. However, when Dudley has it wrong is the side of the floor Horton-Tucker can be a difference-maker for Los Angeles.
While Horton-Tucker undoubtedly has loads of offensive potential, the defensive end is where he’s made the biggest impact for the Lakers this season. In fact, according to Cleaning the Glass, Horton-Tucker has the second-best defensive point differential on the team (-6.4) behind Alex Caruso (-5.8).
The question is: should Vogel let Horton-Tucker play through his growing pains on offense to reap the benefits of what Horton-Tucker brings on the defensive end? The answer to that question is still unknown, mostly because of how early in the season it is.
One thing’s for certain, though: Horton-Tucker is a really exciting two-way prospect, and the Lakers should do everything they can to keep him around past this summer, when he’ll enter restricted free agency. After all, he can’t be the the Lakers’ starting point guard of the future if he’s not on the team.