By all accounts, Talen Horton-Tucker’s sophomore season with the Los Angeles Lakers was a success: he managed to squeeze out minutes in Frank Vogel’s crowded back court rotation and, on some nights, he looked like a legitimate Sixth Man. For someone with less than 100 NBA games under his belt, that’s huge.
Horton-Tucker will now enter the first full offseason of his young career, and he already has an idea of what he wants to focus on.
“Defensively, I just want to always continue to try and just get a tenacious approach to it: be able to transform my body the way I have done, and just try to be quicker and faster to be able to defend different guys,” Horton-Tucker said during his exit interview on Friday.
“Offensively, I want to get my shot to the point where it’s almost automatic. That comes with the work I continue to put in everyday: get everything consistent. I feel like I’ll be pretty good, and I am ready to take the next step of my career.”
Horton-Tucker made serious progress on both ends of the floor this past season, but a lot of that had to with the simple fact that he was getting more reps. Those reps, in addition to the time he spent in the G League last season, helped him understand the speed of the NBA and, most importantly, where he fits into it.
“I feel like when it starts slowing down you start seeing everything a step faster,” Horton-Tucker said. “You start realizing how guys are playing you a certain way, like in my case, they were playing me this year to go to the basket a lot more. I started to see that early on. Just being able when things start slowing down, I feel like everything opens up. I feel like it unlocks another level to your game.”
No one should expect Horton-Tucker to look like an All-Star in his third season with the Lakers, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him make a substantial leap because of his physical gifts and his understanding of how to use them. Plus, he’s probably going to spend the summer in the gym with Phil Handy; of course he’s going to get better.