Every preseason, we tend to get reactionary takes that start with “it’s only preseason, but…” This year, that story for the Lakers has been Talen Horton-Tucker who has turned a lot of heads with some big outings in the Lakers’ first two games, both against the Clippers.
Horton-Tucker has surprised a lot of people, even the more die-hard fans who had optimistic expectations for him. But his teammates, and especially his head coach, don’t seem shocked at all by how he has been producing with the extra opportunities presented without LeBron James or Anthony Davis in those games.
In fact, national reporter Sam Amick gave a particularly great anecdote from the bubble last year on The Athletic NBA Show (h/t Darius Soriano of Forum Blue and Gold): Frank Vogel turned to some reporters watching Horton-Tucker in practice and told them, “Man, that f***ING kid, he’s gonna start for me next year.”
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) December 15, 2020
Naturally, the reporters were confused by Vogel’s statement but THT is now continuously showcasing flashes of his immense potential and you can see why Vogel would say something like that.
Does that mean Horton-Tucker will actually start this year? Of course not. For one, Vogel did not know how this offseason would shake out and the additions of Dennis Schröder and Wesley Matthews, as well as returning Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, make it very difficult for THT to get rotation minutes, let alone starter ones.
Still, his development and talent are evident and in just two preseason games, he’s given Vogel the great problem of having to find some valuable minutes on the court. Then again, it sounds like Vogel was expecting that to happen.