After acquiring the 46th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft from Orlando for a 2020 2nd-round pick and cash, the Lakers selected Talen Horton-Tucker.
The 6’4’’, 238-pound swingman with a 7’1’’ reach played one season at Iowa State, where he averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks in 27.2 minutes per game as a freshman.
A still-developing 18-year-old Chicago native who doesn’t turn 19 until November was thrilled to find out he was westward bound.
“It’s a blessing … it’s a dream come true,” said Horton-Tucker on a conference call. “Everybody grows up and wants to play for a team like (the Lakers). I can’t wait to get started.”
When asked about his game, THT talked about the importance of doing different things.
“Keeping it versatile … you gotta be able to do a lot of different things on the court,” he offered. “Just get better every day is the most important thing, so I’m just gonna keep doing that.”
Horton-Tucker did not work out for the Lakers, and did not meet with the team at the combine. He has, however, met LeBron James, due to their sharing the Klutch Sports agency.
I asked the Simeon High School product where he thinks his game needs to progress as he enters the NBA.
“I feel like becoming better every day at everything,” he responded. “Just actually working on my all-around game. Doing multiple things that I do. Shooting. My body has actually changed. Doing everything to get in the best shape possible.”
His shooting numbers at Iowa State weren’t where he wanted them to be, as he hit 40.6 percent from the field on 10.9 attempts per game, plus 30.8 percent from three (4.5 attempts) and 62.5 percent from the free throw line. That’s something he addressed with teams throughout the pre-draft process.
“Teams were saying they know I’m a better shooter (than that),” he said. “Just staying consistent in the gym and getting better … that’s been the key focus for me in the pre-draft process. I feel like I did that.”
Horton-Tucker said he can play 1, 2 or 3 on offense, and even the 4 if need be. On defense, he’s working on guarding quicker guards, and is probably most comfortable with 2’s and 3’s. At 238 pounds, he also thinks he’ll be able to hold up well switching onto big men.
When asked if he molds his game after any particular players, THT cited “Guys that do a lot of things” like LeBron and Draymond Green, as well as “2-guards like Bradley Beal.” Horton-Tucker said he watches a lot of basketball, and is always trying to take away little things from players to add to his game.
While his basketball dream came true on Thursday night, THT said he first started thinking about it when he was only four.
And now, he’s a Laker.
“You always hear about the Lakers and how much tradition they have and all the players that come through there … it’s a great place," he concluded. "It was a dream destination for me.”