The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be one of the most talked about teams in the entire NBA this year. As we prepare for the start of the 2021-22 NBA season, there's no debate that the Lakers have one of the most impressive rosters on paper. Anytime you have a starting lineup that features the likes of Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, you're going to be a dangerous team. But the teams that go deep in the playoffs always have depth that can step up and support the stars of an organization.
While it's easy to get caught up looking at the stars on this Lakers roster, it's becoming clear that this team is going to need to find some key contributors in their rotation. General manager Rob Pelinka and the rest of the Lakers front office realized this as they went out and added a number of new additions to the roster. Versatile wings like Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn were brought in as some intriguing offensive firepower in the rotation. Veterans such as Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard were also brought back for another tenure with the Lakers. But there's one name that continues to build some buzz as a potential breakout player.
During the 2019 NBA draft, the Los Angeles Lakers went on to select Talen Horton-Tucker with the 46th overall selection. The former Iowa State product was known for his versatility on the offensive side of the ball in college. One of the most intriguing parts about Horton-Tucker wasn't what he could do on the court, it was his age. He was one of the youngest players in that draft class, and the Lakers realized they had the opportunity to develop Horton-Tucker into a potential asset for this organization. Fast forward to his third year in the NBA, and the soon-to-be 21-year-old has generated some serious buzz around the Lakers franchise this offseason. When asked about Horton-Tucker, head coach Frank Vogel said the team has big aspirations for the young wing.
“There’s nothing Talen doesn’t have to keep him from being an elite player,” says Pelinka. Vogel plans to use more small lineups, with Davis at center, to get more shooting on the floor. “We got away from that last year,” says Vogel. “He’ll play more in the middle. You might see some centerless lineups, too. We have the type of team where we can really open the floor up.”
How can Talen Horton-Tucker impact this Lakers team?
After spending the majority of his rookie year developing in the NBA G-League, Talen Horton-Tucker showed some flashes with the Lakers during the regular season last year. With how the Lakers roster is constructed this year, the versatile wing has the potential to earn some serious minutes in the rotation as a bench asset. Although he's listed at 6'5", Horton-Tucker doesn't have the typical playing style of a shooting guard in the NBA. He's a big bodied player who possesses a freakish 7'1" wingspan that makes him a tough guard for any opposing player. Horton-Tucker is intelligent with the ball in his hands, as he spent plenty of time in college as a playmaking asset.
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There's no denying that the hype has been building for Talen Horton-Tucker to become a consistent part of the Lakers rotation. With his versatility on both sides of the ball, he has the ability to step in and play a number of different positions for this Lakers team. If he can continue to develop his outside shot, and become a more consistent threat from beyond the arc, there's no doubt that he can become an X-Factor off the bench for the Lakers this year. With the Lakers set to have a dangerous amount of firepower in their starting lineup, this team is going to need some key contributors off the bench. It looks as if the hope is that Talen Horton-Tucker becomes that missing piece.