LOS ANGELES — In the second game of the preseason, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel’s star guard Horton-Tucker has wrapped his head around his rotation.
It’s definitely going to make my job harder, Vogel said when asked how he would find a role for Horton-Tucker after leading by 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals in Sunday’s 131-106 to win the Los Angeles Clippers.
Horton Tucker, selected by the Lakers with number 46 in the 2019 concept, could show much of what was missing in Los Angeles. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Schroeder took the day off to rest, while Costas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Kakoc were late scratched due to league health and safety protocols, Vogel said.
With 41 minutes left in the game, Horton-Tucker is more than halfway through the 81 minutes he’s played throughout his newcomer season – in which he posted a plus-minus plus-36.
We have a very close team. Not a minute is guaranteed, Vogel. He will continue to play at a high level and that should encourage everyone to play at a high level. It gives us the luxury of being able to carry the burden for some of our boys who played deep in the championship last year and had a short off-season.
In an unprecedented season for the Lakers and the NBA starting in 2020-21, it’s a blessing to have someone like Horton-Tucker on the roster. He could intervene when the stars are at rest, Mr. Vogel suggested. It’s another capable organism when COVID-19 affects the locker room. Especially with a team of veterans like the Lakers, the energy that comes from watching a 20-year-old in the league already seems to have disappeared in the whole group.
James demonstrated all night on the sidelines, getting up from his chair to imitate the way Horton Tucker slammed his wrist to complete a throw in traffic, shaking his head in amazement after a robbery and killing him on the other side, and even taking off his mask to pierce him on the couch as if he had scored a touchdown when the Iowa State product scored another bucket.
I consider this a blessing, said Horton Tucker, commonly known as THT. It’s actually crazy because I feel like other 19-20 year olds have this experience in the world? Not too much. So, if you are able to assimilate and learn every day, if you see that other superstars notice, then that’s actually pretty good.
With a wingspan of 1.80 m, Horton Tucker has shown that he can use this wingspan to defend.
Of course he is still young and will occasionally make mistakes, but he has as much defensive talent as he does offensive, according to Vogel. So I have a feeling we’re gonna like it.
His potential already reflects that of another young defensive Lakers guard who came out of the G League two years ago and started the sixth game of the NBA final against the Miami Heat: Alex Caruso.
Everyone travels differently, but I think the air conditioning is pretty good, Horton Tucker said. Seeing this around me every day is a good way to measure your individual situation. Having such a man and seeing the success he’s had gives me the confidence that I can do the same.