Lakers’ Talen Horton-Tucker shines throughout debut season, but makes biggest mark as initiator of crunch time

Frank Vogel did not refuse the following Sunday Talen Horton-Tucker helped lead Lakers to 114-106 (Box score) win San Antonio Spurs on his season debut. “We invested in him this summer for a reason,” Vogel told reporters. “We believe in that young man.”

That belief has spawned a controversial investment. Horton-Tucker, who averaged just 8.7 points in 71 career games in the first two NBA season, have been awarded a three-year, $31 million deal this season largely based on potential. That potential was so valuable to the Lakers that they refused to hand him over to the All-Star veteran Kyle Lowry on the trading deadline of 2021, and then choose to pay him according to what is more proven Alex Caruso in free agent.

What Horton-Tucker seems to lack in a shooter compared to what the Lakers have overlooked, they hope he can make up for in his role as both a ball holder and defender. The first return on that investment came on Sunday. Horton-Tucker scored 17 points on a 50% shot in a win. His defense on the ball was, at times, as ferocious as the Lakers could have hoped for.

But that trust, the faith that led to the massive investment the Lakers made in Horton-Tucker, is most evident in the long run. The Lakers had previously led the Spurs by 14 points, but San Antonio cut Los Angeles’ advantage to two. With 2:41 left in the game, Frank Vogel called the timeout. The Lakers won the following three games, all initiated by Horton-Tucker.

It started with his unique stress points. Horton-Tucker throws the ball up before falling over Carmelo Anthony. He moved to a corner while Russell Westbrook and Wayne Ellington Try their hand in attacking the basket. Both were unsuccessful, but in the process, the defense transformed a lot so that Horton-Tucker had a pretty clean path to the rim. Two points.

He specifically did not participate in this next play, in which he passed Anthony Davis who then hit Carmelo Anthony with a score of 3, but that’s not the point. While the fact that he does get the rebound may announce this, in possession of the second consecutive crunch, Horton-Tucker is bringing the ball to the floor and triggering the initial move. He, along with Westbrook of everyone in the ring with him, plays the point guard.

We’ll see this again in our next possession. With Horton-Tucker initiating the attack, Westbrook crouched on the spot where the miner was. He was rewarded for it, though, as Horton-Tucker’s pass to Davis opened the door for a quick cut into the belt. Two more points.

By this point, the Laker’s lead was nine and the match was effectively secured. However, Horton-Tucker still took possession of the next ball in a one-on-one scoring attempt. He flipped the ball over, but we got through the last four parts of the game without Westbrook fouling the Laker. He was, again, waiting in the miner’s place.

Of course, none of this represents any major shift in the Laker hierarchy. Westbrook has not been substituted as the team’s point guard and the entire crisis-time offense will reconfigure when LeBron James profit. Still, it’s a glimpse of what the Lakers envisioned when they built this unusual roster.

That first possession is something of a blueprint for the Lakers as they navigate the roster with limited distances. While Westbrook and Horton-Tucker will likely get in the way of the simple pick-and-roll-focused approach, the LeBron-Davis the Lakers have used over the past two seasons in late games, the balance in terms of face The theory lies in how many formations there are with too many dangerous downhill steering. can twist defenses out of shape. The imminent return of James and Kendrick Nunn would only give the Lakers more such weapons. In essence, it is a bet on talent. The Lakers think they have so much of it that they can afford to let Westbrook get in the way of their serve in the name of spreading wealth and sprinkling unpredictable medicine into their attack.

It’s a bold and wildly unconventional approach to 2021. After all, there’s a reason most teams appreciate shooting like that, and the Lakers know it after winning the championship in such a way. there in 2020. But their faith in Horton-Tucker is so great that they’ve chosen the harder path this time, and if Sunday is any indication, he’s well worth the investment. | Lakers’ Talen Horton-Tucker shines throughout debut season, but makes biggest mark as initiator of crunch time


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