Tim Duncan. Shaquille O’Neal. LeBron James. These players came into the NBA with insane amounts of hype attached to them, as many figured they had a great chance to end up as great players, if not hall-of-famers. All three had immense pressure going into their careers, and all three delivered and then some. The Lakers were fortunate enough to draft another player of the same type of stature, Talen Horton-Tucker, in the 2019 NBA Draft — a player that many expect to be a hall-of-famer when it’s all said and done, if not the GOAT.
Many are already believers in Talen Horton-Tucker as he enters his second season. These believers include Frank Vogel and LeBron James, the latter of which tweeted that Horton-Tucker is “SPECIAL” while Vogel stated he could make an impact for the Lakers “immediately”. He continues to receive the hype he has received since day one of being in the NBA, although some people may not know who he is if they have lived under a rock for the past couple of years. Either that, or you’re a programmed basketball cyborg that doesn’t have time to pay attention to the stuff happening off-the-court.
That’s where Kawhi Leonard comes in.
Wesley Matthews says he didn't know how old Talen Horton-Tucker was until Kawhi asked him during last night's game.
"Wesley? Talen is 19?"
(Wes has since learned he's 20)
— Preseason Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 12, 2020
Yes, that’s right. Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll reports that new Lakers wing player Wesley Matthews had Kawhi Leonard come up to him in the middle of the Lakers’ preseason win against the Clippers on Friday to ask what THT’s age was. Wesley incorrectly confirmed that THT was the ripe age of 19, which — to be fair — was THT’s age only a few months ago when the teams were in the bubble. There, Talen Horton-Tucker impressed many as he dismantled the Rockets left-and-right, causing ESPN commentator Mark Jackson to say, “THT may be better than Michael Jordan and LeBron James combined”.
Some first-half offensive highlights of the Lakers' preseason win last night, with A LOT of THT in the back half of the video pic.twitter.com/yTlyoEb1Xn
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) December 12, 2020
Of course, I’m joking. Still, Kawhi Leonard had to have been asking Matthews that question for a reason. Maybe the 20-year-old player was impressing one of the best players in the league. Although he did not shoot efficiently (no one in the game really did), he did end with a Lakers’ high 19 points with nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals as well. He had some crafty finishes, some of which are included in the video above.
THT played 37 minutes in Friday’s game and although he definitely won’t approach that number many times in this upcoming regular season, he may receive increased minutes due to some “load management” games here and there for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. And who knows how much he may be needed if players start to get benched for positive COVID-19 tests. Either way, the kid continues to impress the Lakers as well as others around the league.