On Monday, Talen Horton-Tucker will make his 66th appearance for the Los Angeles Lakers, which includes the preseason and postseason. He’s basically a rookie, and there have been nights where he’s played like one, too.
But there have also been game where Horton-Tucker has carried the Lakers on offense, and that’s been especially true since LeBron James and Anthony Davis suffered their respective injuries. On Thursday, when the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics, Horton-Tucker tallied a team-high 19 points and 7 assists. It was his 11th game this season with at least 15 points, and his fifth game with at least 15 points and 5 assists.
Horton-Tucker showed flashes of potential as combo guard last season with the South Bay Lakers and in his brief stint with the Lakers in the postseason, but nothing like what he’s shown this season — he’s taken his game to a new level, and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel believes there’s even more room for him to improve.
“We as an organization have a growth mindset with all of our players, young players and veteran players, and he watches his film every day,” Vogel said during his pregame media availability on Saturday. “We try to build the habits that will help him grow and succeed and be efficient, and I think we have seen that over the last few weeks, some growth.
“He’s had some double-digit assist games,” Vogel continued. “I think he’s forcing less in the paint, and is smarter with his shot selection on the perimeter. We’re on him to be as efficient as possible, and I think he’s growing in that regard.”
That growth isn’t always going to show up in the form of double-digit scoring nights. In fact, on most nights, it likely won’t. But luckily for Horton-Tucker, Vogel and his coaching staff are committed to helping him work through his growing pains.
“We’re on him to be efficient in everything he does: To keep his turnovers down, to keep his shot selection really into the quality shot category, and he’s continuing to grow with that,” Vogel said. “Some good, some bad, like all young players, but he’s definitely growing.”