As expected, the Los Angeles Lakers jumped into the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft. A previous report from Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN did suggest that this would be the case, as the Lakers looked to add inexpensive talent to the roster, with the ability to exceed the salary cap with minimum contracts.
In the end, the 46th overall pick from the Orlando Magic was the acquisition, in exchange for a 2020 second round pick and cash considerations. The player selected was guard Talen Horton-Tucker, of Iowa State.
Whilst Talen Horton-Tucker only stands at 6-foot-4, he possesses a large frame, weighing 238-pounds, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. In his only season at Iowa State, Horton-Tucker averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals, through 35 games. At 18-years-old, with a birth date of November 25, 2000, he is the youngest player to come out of college in this year’s draft.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, between first and eighth grade Horton-Tucker attended St Matthias School. From the fourth grade he played on the school’s basketball team. Upon his acceptance into Iowa State years later, his number 5 jersey was retired by the school.
During his high school years, Horton-Tucker attended Simeon Career Academy, where he lead the Wolverines to three-straight City Championships. In his final season, he posted averages of; 20.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.3 blocks. This earned him a four-star recruiting status in ESPN’s rankings.
In October 2017, the promising guard committed to Iowa State, selecting the Cyclones over Illinois and Xavier. During his only season in Iowa, the team went 23-12, 9-9 in the Big 12 Conference. They won the Big 12 Championship, beating Kansas 78-66. This earned Iowa State with a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the team went onto lose to the 11 seed Ohio State, 62-59. After his freshman season, Horton-Tucker declared for the 2019 NBA draft.
Despite his age, Talen Horton-Tucker is a unique prospect. You can see why the Lakers jumped at the opportunity to bring him on board.
He has the strength to certainly hold his own in the professional ranks. With an eye-catching 7-foot-1 wingspan, along with 238-pounds in weight, he should be able to stand toe-to-toe, defensively, with the majority of NBA guards. In addition, on the defensive end he can switch between both guard positions and potentially move to the 3 also.
Even though he is a weighty 6-foot-4 guard, he is considered a solid athlete who can handle the ball, has tidy footwork, and can finish at the rim, especially through contact. His lack of height doesn’t appear to impact his ability to crash the boards too. He averaged 4.9 rebounds in college, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see these skills transfer over to the NBA.
At Iowa State, Horton-Tucker played all four perimeter positions. He spent a lot of his time as a floor spacing 4, but also ran the ball as an ever-so-modern, point-forward. Although, with a Lakers team that struggled in terms of shooting last season, Horton-Tucker appears to have difficulties as well. He made just 40.6% of his shots last season, with a 30.8% clip from 3-point land.
With his weight, he will have to learn to grow this into a positive in the NBA. This is in terms of building up his core strength and filling out his body in an athletic sense, in order to match with the league’s best.
There is no doubt that Horton-Tucker has more of an impact on the defensive end rather than offensively. The Lakers may opt to move him up-and-down from the G-League to assist in his development. But if he can just get a fraction of his offensive game going, he could be a solid contributor instantly.
By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)