Talen Horton-Tucker made it clear at his Lakers exit interview that he wants to get better this summer. And while he specifically talked about improving his shot and his defense during what will likely be his final appearance in front of the media before restricted free agency, he also made it clear that he wants to grow in every way he can.
“I am ready to take the next step of my career,” Horton-Tucker said then.
Whether or not that next step will come with the Lakers is still up in the air — they can match any offer Horton-Tucker receives in free agency this summer — but the still-just-20-year-old guard is already putting in the work to take a leap forward, just two weeks removed from the Lakers’ postseason elimination.
The first thing that jumps out from this video is that Horton-Tucker has certainly gotten himself in better shape than the slightly doughy 18-year-old that showed up to his first Lakers camp. He took a leap in his conditioning from prior to the NBA bubble to the bubble, and then another one from the break in-between the Lakers’ title and the 2021 regular season. It looks like that process is continuing apace this summer.
His choice of boxing may also be an intentional one, because the benefits of that type of workout can pay dividends for basketball players as well. If Horton-Tucker is looking for exercise that to gets his whole body involved while working on his hand-eye coordination and balance — all qualities that transfer to defense — he could do a lot worse than boxing, as Felipe Eichenberger, the head strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Nuggets, told Men’s Journal last year.
“Basketball and strength conditioning is not just weights and a court—boxing is a great off-season workout for NBA players... It has the cardio aspect, and you’re moving in all directions and using a lot of footwork in the training. All the handwork, footwork, and directional movement can transfer to basketball.”
Will this offseason work translate to improved play for Horton-Tucker next season? We won’t know until he hits the court in the fall, but for now, it does appear that he’s at least incredibly motivated to keep growing as a player.
That’s great news for the Lakers... or whatever other team he plays for next year.
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