Still only 18 years old, Talen Horton-Tucker’s life just merged into the fast lane, as he is heading to Los Angeles as the Lakers’ latest draft selection.
Acquired 46th overall via trade with Orlando (in exchange for a 2020 second-rounder and cash considerations), Horton-Tucker is making the leap to the NBA after only one season at Iowa State, where he averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals.
But the numbers that best describe Horton-Tucker are his off-the-charts measurables. A 6-foot-4, 238-pound wing, the Chicago native plays a physical game on both side of the ball. But the biggest spotlight is on his insane, 7-foot-1 wingspan.
That length is the key to THT’s potential. With it, he has the defensive ability to envelop opposing perimeter players and even played up a couple positions to power forward in college. And it also allows him to effectively attack the glass despite facing opponents several years his senior.
That eye-popping reach unlocks the versatility that has become Horton-Tucker’s calling card. He has an impressive handle, showcased most during the times when the Cyclones gave him the keys to the offense and had him shift over to point guard. For a player who looks up to elite do-it-all players like (new teammate) LeBron James and Draymond Green, THT has the physical tools to potentially become his own unique mold.
Horton-Tucker will need to inflate his shooting percentages — 40.6 from the field, 30.8 on 3-pointers and 62.5 at the foul line — in order to maximize his potential. Yet with a recent All-Big 12 honorable mention and Big 12 All-Rookie selection, the teenager is off to a quick start as he lands in L.A.