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Podcast: Can Talen Horton-Tucker reach Lakers fans’ expectations?

Lakers fans have made it a crime punishable by something just worse than death to disparage Talen Horton-Tucker. Can he live up to those expectations?

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Few players across the various fan bases throughout the NBA are held in higher regard than Talen Horton-Tucker is by Los Angeles Lakers fans. This isn’t without warrant, to be clear. I’m only trying to summarize the general expectations fans have for a 20-year-old basically-rookie based on the flashes he’s shown to this point.

On today’s episode of “The Lakers Lounge” — and in the latest of our series of player previews — I welcomed Cooper Halpern (who wrote Horton-Tucker’s player review) on the show to discuss the chances that Horton-Tucker somehow lives up to what Lakers fans think he is capable of.

We started by figuring out where Cooper stands on the spectrum of expectations, and he had no problem stating that he’s about as high as they come on THT (not C, to be clear).

Cooper pointed to a few things to explain why he is so excited about what Horton-Tucker is capable of, namely his finishing ability. And when you consider how poorly the Lakers spaced the floor for much of this season, the fact that he can’t keep defenses honest with his own shooting, and, again, his age, it’s pretty insane what THT was able to do near the rim.

There’s also reason to be optimistic about the things Horton-Tucker didn’t do as well, like defense, shooting and playmaking. We get into why we both think he’ll improve in all of those facets of the game, too.

Finally, the Lakers might be faced with a difficult decision this summer because of Horton-Tucker’s contract situation (he is a restricted free agent, meaning the Lakers can match any offer for him). It’s been reported that at least one executive would offer him a huge contract, but would a team actually pull the trigger? And if so, what should the Lakers do?

Cooper and I agree on the next steps necessary on that front, but you’ll have to listen to hear what those steps might be.

You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.