Despite limping into the All-Star break with plenty of injuries headlined by Anthony Davis’ calf strain, the Lakers have come out strong in the second half of the season. They’ve now won three in a row, most recently beating the Timberwolves 137-121 on Tuesday night. Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Talen Horton-Tucker have starred in these three wins, with the latter of the three receiving some high praise from the Lakers’ star that is 16 years older than him — LeBron James.
In the praise, LeBron seemed to briefly participate in one of Ringer CEO Bill Simmons’ favorite and pointless exercises — re-drafting past NBA Drafts (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll)!
LeBron James, on THT.
"If you go back and re-do the draft from last year, Talen Horton-Tucker would not go in the second round. We're super duper luck and blessed to be able to have grabbed him in the second round."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 17, 2021
Talen Horton-Tucker was drafted 46th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, the draft most notably headlined by number one and two overall picks, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. Looking at the list of draftees that night, it’s probably safe to say that THT still wouldn’t be drafted above the first five players selected. Some surprising late first-round picks such as Matisse Thybulle and Brandon Clarke would probably still be in front of THT as well. There are also some decently performing second-rounders alongside THT, most notably Eric Paschall, Bol Bol, and Terance Mann. However, I’d say THT has reached those three players’ levels, if not exceeded them. Other than that, there are a couple of mid-first-rounders (Coby White and Tyler Herro) that probably deserve a nod over THT, so we are looking at maybe nine to 12 players who should probably still be in front of THT. And that’s probably being conservative.
The reasoning stands to say that Talen Horton-Tucker probably should have been a fringe lottery pick, giving the Lakers’ front office another great value pick in a recent history that is full of them. Also, you never know how THT would play on another team that doesn’t have ball-handlers in front of him on the depth chart such as LeBron James and Dennis Schröder. Kuzma even brought this point up in comparison to the Timberwolves shortly after the win against them (h/t Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation):
Kyle Kuzma if there is something special about THT: "He's a great player … If he was on a team like the Timberwolves, he would be like Anthony Edwards or anyone else. … When he's 25, 26, 27 he's gonna be scary."
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) March 17, 2021
Either way, the praise lately has definitely been warranted. THT scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, in the past two games while also notching a career-high for rebounds (10) in one game and a career-high in assists (seven) in the other.
The Lakers scouting department. They never lose!